Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Professionalism alert: Florida appellate court reverses ruling holding court spectator in contempt for ringing cellphone.
When Michelle McRoy's cellphone rang during a Florida juvenile court proceeding, the presiding judge ordered the phone confiscated, destroyed and then held Ms. McRoy in contempt of court. The appellate court just reversed the trial court's ruling finding that although the ringing cellphone was annoying, contempt of court was overkill:
"Contempt is an act tending to embarrass, hinder, or obstruct the court in the administration of justice, or to lessen the court's authority or dignity," the appeal court wrote. "Contempt does not exist just because a judge feels aggrieved or vexed."
Had the ringing cellphone belonged to an attorney in the case rather than a spectator, perhaps the appeals court would not have been so understanding. In any event, this serves as a good reminder to all attorneys to turn off those cellphones when in court to avoid raising the ire of the judge, whether she holds you in contempt or not.
I am the scholarship dude.