Judge removed over cell phone jailing
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. - A sign in Niagara Falls' city court warns that cell phones and pagers must be turned off. Folks there believe it. On Tuesday, a judge was bounced from the bench for jailing 46 people after none would own up to a cell phone that began ringing during his court session.
Judge Robert Restaino "snapped" and "engaged in what can only be described as two hours of inexplicable madness" during the March 2005 session, Raoul Felder, chairman of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, wrote in the decision to remove the judge.
Restaino, who became a full-time judge in 2002 after serving part-time since 1996, was hearing domestic violence cases when a phone rang.
"Everyone is going to jail," the judge said. "Every single person is gong 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."
When no one came forward, the judge ordered the group into custody and they were taken by police to the city jail, where they were searched and packed into crowded cells. Fourteen people who could not post bail were shackled and bused to the Niagara County Jail in Lockport, a 30-minute drive away.
Later in the afternoon, after being told reporters were calling, the judge ordered the defendants released.
The judge told the state panel he was under stress in his personal life.
Re: Judge removed over cell phone jailing
That's where the checks and balances system falls apart.
Judges have too much power in this country.