Feeds

US judge debenched for jailing entire courtroom

'Inexplicable madness' provoked by ringing mobile

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

A US judge who jailed an entire courtroom because no one would cough to being the owner of a ringing mobile phone has been removed from the bench by a commission on judicial conduct.

Judge Robert Restaino, 48, was hearing a domestic violence case in Niagara Falls on 11 March 2005 when he heard the offending phone and "snapped", as the BBC puts it.

According to the commission's report, he told the courtroom: "Every single person is going to jail in this courtroom unless I get that instrument now. If anybody believes I'm kidding, ask some of the folks that have been here for a while. You are all going."

After security officers unsuccessfully tried to find the device, Restaino ordered a short recess. When he returned to the bench, he asked the phone's owner to 'fess up. Receiving no reply, he "ordered that the entire courtroom audience of 46 people be taken into custody and set bail at $1,500".

Restaino said: "This troubles me more than any of you people can understand. This person, whoever he or she may be, doesn't have a whole lot of concern. Let's see how much concern they have when they are sitting in the back there with all the rest of you.

"Ultimately, when you go back there to be booked, you've got to surrender what you got on you. One way or another, we're going to get our hands on something."

One of those present reportedly said: "This is not fair to the rest of us." Restaino replied: "I know it isn't."

The 46 prisoners were taken to to Niagara City jail, where they were "searched and packed into crowded cells". Fourteen unfortunates who couldn't stump bail were "later shackled and transported to another prison".

Judge Restaino ordered their release only later that afternoon when reporters "began to ask questions about the ruling".

The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct yesterday recommended the removal of Judge Restaino for what its chairman described as "two hours of inexplicable madness". The commission said he had acted "without any semblance of a lawful basis" and had conducted himself like a "petty tyrant".

The judge admitted to the commission that he'd known that he had no legal basis for his actions, which he classified as "improper and inexcusable". In mitigation, he told the panel he'd "been under stress in his personal life at the time of the incident".

The commission's administrator, Robert Tembekjian, was unmoved, saying there could be "no excuse" for the mass jailing, and that the fundamental rights of 46 people had been "deliberately and methodically violated".

According to AP, the judge's lawyer said Restaino "would exercise his right to appeal the decision within 30 days", during which time he will remain in office. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'
Spooks ask Dabbsy to suggest a nice hotel with pool
Russia sends SEX-CRAZED GECKOS to SPAAAAACE!
In space... no one can hear you're green...
Indian techies-in-training face down MAN-EATING LEOPARD - and WIN
Big cat causes big trouble at Mumbai college
Carlos: Slim your working week to just three days of toil
'Midas World' vision suggests you retire later, watch more tellie and buy more stuff
Yahoo! Japan! launches! service! for! the! dead!
If you're reading this email, I am no longer alive
Plucky Rockall podule man back on (proper) dry land
Bold, barmy Brit adventurer Nick Hancock escapes North Atlantic islet
Motorist 'thought car had caught fire' as Adele track came on stereo
'FIRE' caption on dashboard prompts dunderheaded hard shoulder halt
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.