A 26-year-old juror in a Salem, Oregon, armed robbery case has been sentenced to serve two days in jail after he was caught texting in court.
Benjamin Kohler was charged with contempt after authorities say he was using his mobile device to text after being given explicit instructions to stay off it.
The judge in the trial, Dennis Graves, instructed the entire jury that cell phone use during court was prohibited. He apparently issued the instructions multiple times.
But Kohler either didn’t hear or didn’t care. During the testimony of a Salem police officer, a video recording was played in the courtroom. That’s when the district attorney noticed a dim light emanating from Kohler’s area.
The proceeding were stopped and the courtroom was emptied. Apparently, Kohler had no explanation for his texting.
“The duty to serve as a juror must be taken very seriously. Every juror has the responsibility to devote his entire attention to the witnesses and evidence being presented. In this case, Mr. Kohler failed to meet his obligations and failed to honor the direction of this court. My hope is that he will use his time in jail to reflect upon his behavior,” said the judge.
Hopefully. If you can’t put your phone down for a few minutes, let’s say, while you’re eating – you may get soup on your device. But if you can’t put your phone down for a few minutes during a trial – you may miss something that could be the difference between someone’s freedom and incarceration. Put the phone down, dude. Nothing you’re texting about is that important, I assure you.
The too-technologically-connected juror has been an ever-increasing problem over the past few years. Just this week, we told you that a juror in the U.K. faces contempt charges after he made Facebook postings about wanting to “fuck up a pedophile.” In the past, we’ve even seen death row convictions overturned due to social media-using jurors.