A Salem man who decided texting his buddies was more important than listening to crucial evidence during a trial has been found in contempt of court and jailed.
26 year old Benjamin Kohler answered the call of jury duty in the morning and by the afternoon was himself sitting in a jial cell for persisting in texting while jurying.
When a key piece of evidence was –a video of the defendant’s statement to the cops–was played for the jury, the bailiffs dimmed the lights.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Department takes it from here:
It was at this time that Judge Graves noticed a light reflecting on Juror Kohler’s chest. It was obvious to the Court that Mr. Kohler was texting on his cell phone.
Judge Graves immediately called for a recess, cleared the courtroom and excused all of the jurors except Mr. Kohler. Kohler had no explanation for his actions. Judge Grave instructed Court Security Deputy Jeremy Schwab to take Mr. Kohler into custody for contempt of court. Kohler was arrested and transported to the Marion County Jail, charged with contempt of court; ORS 33.015 (2) (a). There is no bail for this charge.
An alternate juror was brought in and the defendant was found guilty.
Kohler was put in the slammer Tuesday and let out on Wednesday night.
Judge Graves commented, “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.” Judge Graves also hoped that his decision to hold Kohler in contempt will serve as a lesson to all future jurors.
Being a juror is one of the most important and fulfilling things you can do as an American citizen. Most people try to get out of it. I can’t imagine this will help make the prospect that much more attractive, but, oh well…
Question: Did the judge do the right thing?