In Marion County, Oregon, a juror in a criminal trial was jailed for two days after the presiding judge caught him texting.
Benjamin Kohler, 26, was singled out by Judge Dennis Graves when the “light glow around [Kohler’s] chest” clued the judge in to the fact that the juror was using his cell phone. Graves had instructed the jurors specifically to not use mobile devices, but Kohler got busted texting during the transmission of a video interview with the defendant, who had been accused of armed robbery, while the lights were dimmed.
At that point, Graves ordered all the jurors but Kohler from the courtroom and imposed a two-day jail sentence for contempt of court.
“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,” Graves said via statement. “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.”
Kohler “had no explanation for his actions” according to officials. He was dismissed from his role as a juror, and an alternate took his place to complete the trial, which ended in a conviction of the defendant.
What do you think of this judge’s action? Should texting while performing one’s civic duty as a juror be punishable by jail or otherwise? Or did the judge go too far? Do you have experience texting while serving on a jury?