A New York judge who jailed all 46 people in his courtroom after someone’s mobile phone went off has lost his job. The chairman of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct has recommended that Judge Robert Restaino be removed from the bench, three years after the incident, which was described as “two hours of inexplicable madness.”
Back in March 2005, Judge Restaino was presiding over a domestic violence case in Niagara Falls when the offending cell rang. “Every single person is gong to jail in this courtroom unless I get that instrument now” raged Restaino. “If anybody believes I’m kidding, ask some of the folks that have been here for a while. You are all going.”
After security guards were unable to find the phone, the judge ordered the arrest of every single person in the courtroom. Bail was set at $1,500 and were carted off to Niagara City jail. Those who could not stump up the money were later shackled and taken to another prison. It was not until reporters started asking questions a couple of hours later that the judge relented and released the 46.
He later described his behaviour as “improper and inexcusable” and blamed it on his private life, saying that he was under much stress at the time. Judge Restaino has 30 days to appeal against the decision, and will remain in office until that time. [BBC News]