Legal Ethics

Judge Docked 5 Days Pay Reportedly Threatened Jail re 24 Ringing Phones, Jailed 2 for Slamming Doors

A Maryland judge has been docked five days of pay for summarily holding defendants in his court in contempt, in a consent to discipline approved Friday by the state court of appeals.

Baltimore County District Judge Norman R. Stone III, 54, must take the unpaid time off within 30 days, the order (PDF) states.

The Baltimore Sun (sub. req.) reports that Stone summarily fined 24 individuals and threatened them with jail concerning ringing cellphones. At least two others got jail sentences for slamming doors—in one case, the father of a defendant who had just been sentenced himself got 30 days over the door issue, although the man apologized. That sentence, which was to begin immediately, was vacated on appeal.

The judge’s lawyer said Stone should have given the individuals a chance to defend themselves before they were sentenced. “He takes this all very seriously, obviously. He realizes he has made some calls that were out of the strike zone, if you will,” said attorney David B. Irwin. “He’d been 14 years without any sanctions.”

Under a new policy, Stone now asks those in his courtroom either to turn off their phones or step outside.

Hat tip: Legal Profession Blog.

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