Will cell phones be banned at courthouse?

By Regina Russo - email | bio

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cell phones have always been banned from court rooms, and now some judges are looking at banning them from the court house - not just to preserve the witness testimony, but to protect the witness.

Some people who came to the Hamilton County Courthouse say banning cell phones really isn't that big of a deal.

"I think it's a good idea, let's be about business, leave cell phones out, take care of your business get your cell phone when you leave," said Rev. John McCants.

"We're not going to be hijack, skyjack or cyber jack, we have to take control of the courtroom," said Judge Nadine Allen.

Judge Allen is one of the several judges who believes banning cell phones from courthouse is a very big deal to witnesses and jurors.

"In the beginning, it's just a disruption," she said. "But now taking pictures, recording of testimony is totally unacceptable. And judges are taking control."

Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Melissa Powers understands why cell phones in courtrooms can be a problem.

"The concern is if there's a separation of witnesses you don't have someone inside, the courtroom telling someone outside the courtroom what the questions are. Or communication between the two someone from outside, inside," she said.

But says there's this one small thing about courtrooms.

"On the other hand public forum, freedom of information, and how cell phone being used, so I think leave as judges discretion as to what's actually being used in the courtroom," said Judge Powers.

But some judges don't want to do that individually.

"Like wait a minute if we have to retrieve phones we have to give a receipt stop procedure, so we're turning over security," said Judge Allen.

The idea is when you get checked for a weapon, you'll get checked for a cell phone too, because when it comes to witness and juror protection, it's just as dangerous.

The penalty for ignoring the cell phone ban could be as severe as a jail time for contempt of court and a decision could be made by the end of the summer.

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