A Niagara Falls (NY) City Court judge who jailed 46 people who were in his courtroom when a cellphone rang, was removed from the bench by a state commission.
Judge Robert Restaino "snapped" and "engaged in what can only be described as two hours of inexplicable madness" during the March 2005 session, Raoul Felder, chairman of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, wrote in the decision to remove Restaino from the $113,900-per-year post.
A phone rang during a case in the courthouse that has a sign warning that cellphones and pagers must be turned off.
"Everyone is going to jail," Restaino said. "Every single person is going to jail in this courtroom unless I get that instrument now. You are all going."
When no one came forward, Restaino ordered the group into custody, and they were taken to jail, where they were searched and packed into crowded cells. Fourteen people who could not post bail were shackled and taken to another jail. Restaino ordered them released later that afternoon.
Restaino told the state panel he had been under stress in his personal life and appealed his firing.
In a 6-0 decision in 2008, the Court of Appeals concluded that “by indiscriminately committing into custody 46 defendants, petitioner deprived them of their liberty without due process, exhibited insensitivity, indifference and a callousness so reproachable that his continued presence on the Bench cannot be tolerated.”
(info from The Associated Press and WSJ, photo from UCLA)