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Judge slaps himself with fine after phone goes off in court

Raymond Voet said his new smartphone “started talking really loud”.

Judge Raymond Voet. Smartphone not pictured.
Judge Raymond Voet. Smartphone not pictured.
Image: AP Photo/Ionia Sentinel-Standard, Karen Bota

A JUDGE HAS found himself in contempt of court after his phone went off during a hearing.

Judge Raymond Voet fined himself $25 after the incident at his Michigan courtroom.

He said he was confused by a new model of smartphone which “started talking really loud”.

Voet has a posted policy at Ionia County 64A District Court stating that electronic devices causing a disturbance during court sessions will result in the owner being cited with contempt, the Sentinel-Standard of Ionia and MLive.com reported.

On Friday afternoon, during a prosecutor’s closing argument as part of a jury trial, Voet’s new smartphone began to emit sounds

I’m guessing I bumped it. It started talking really loud, saying ‘I can’t understand you. Say something like Mom.

Voet has used a Blackberry mobile phone for years, and said he wasn’t as familiar with the operation of the new touchscreen, Windows-based phone.

“That’s an excuse, but I don’t take those excuses from anyone else. I set the bar high, because cellphones are a distraction and there is very serious business going on,” he said.

“The courtroom is a special place in the community, and it needs more respect than that.”

Over the years, the judge whose court is about 110 miles northwest of Detroit has taken phones away from police officers, attorneys, witnesses, spectators and friends. During a break in the trial, Voet held himself in contempt, fined himself and paid the fine.

“Judges are humans,” Voet said. “They’re not above the rules. I broke the rule and I have to live by it.”

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