Baltimore County District Judge Norman Stone III really, REALLY, does not like unnecessary noise in his courtroom. Via the Legal Profession Blog I see that in the nine-month period between May 2011 and February 2012, Stone found 28 people in contempt for their courtroom disruptions. According to The Baltimore Sun, two dozen of these people were fined and threatened with jail time after their cellphones rang in Stone's courtroom, and at least two people were jailed for slamming doors.
Word of Stone's aggressive noise cancellation tactics eventually reached Maryland's Commission on Judicial Disabilities, however, and last week the judge agreed to a five-day unpaid suspension after acknowledging that he had exceeded his authority by sentencing people for contempt without allowing them to defend themselves in court. Stone will also be placed on administrative probation for two years.
According to The Baltimore Sun, some of the incidents in Stone's courtroom included:
- Stone added two additional months in jail for contempt to the six-month drug sentence of a person who used a cellphone in court. The contempt charge was later dismissed, however.
- After sentencing a man's daughter to 15 days in jail on a drug charge, Stone told the man that he, too, would be going to jail for 30 days for slamming the courtroom door. "That's my standard sentence for door slammers," the judge said. The door-slammer appealed this ruling and the case was reportedly dismissed.
Stone's attorney, David B. Irwin, told The Sun that the judge "realizes he has made some calls that were out of the strike zone, if you will," and that he has changed his hard-line stance against cell phones: "Now he says please turn your phone off or take it outside," Irwin said.
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