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Oregon Juror Jailed for Texting During Trial (and See What a Mich. Judge Did When His Own Phone Went Off)

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"Judges are humans. They're not above the rules."

Even discrete texting has some relatively obvious signs. Hands brought low to the middle of one's lap. Eyes occasionally diverting downward. And then there's the tell-tale glow.

(Photo: Shutterstock.com)

An Oregon judge noticed such a glow on a juror's chest while the courtroom lights were dimmed during video evidence in an armed-robbery trial.

Marion County Circuit Judge Dennis Graves cleared the courtroom and excused all jurors except 26-year-old Benjamin Kohler.

According to a news release from the Marion County Sheriff's Office, Kohler had no explanation for his actions.

Jurors in Oregon are given explicit instructions at the outset of each trial not to use cellphones in court.

Graves held Kohler in contempt, and Kohler spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday in the county jail. He was released Wednesday night.

Neither the nature of the text message nor its recipient was disclosed.

This wasn't the only cellphone infraction that has been seen in court recently. Last Friday, a Michigan district court judge's own cellphone went off. The judge was forced to hold himself in contempt of court and pay a fine.

Judge Raymond 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.

Judge Raymond Voet poses in his courtroom in Ionia, Mich., Monday, April 15, 2013. Voet, whose smartphone disrupted a hearing in his own courtroom, has held himself in contempt and paid $25 for the infraction. On Friday afternoon, during a prosecutor's closing argument as part of a jury trial, Voet's new smartphone began to emit sounds requesting phone voice commands. Voet said he thinks he bumped the phone, and the embarrassment likely left his face red. (Photo: AP/Ionia Sentinel-Standard, Karen Bota)

In the afternoon on April 12, during a prosecutor's closing argument as part of a jury trial, Voet's new smartphone began to emit sounds requesting phone voice commands. Voet said he thinks he bumped the phone, and the embarrassment likely left his face red.

"I'm guessing I bumped it. It started talking really loud, saying `I can't understand you. Say something like Mom,'" he said.

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.

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."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Featured image via Shutterstock.com.

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