SMETHPORT â The use of cellphones in courtrooms has been banned for several years.
Now itâs illegal to even possess a cellphone in a McKean County court facility.
President County Judge John Pavlock has issued an order against âthe use and possession of any electronic devicesâ in any county courtroom.
In addition to cellphones, the banned devices include video cameras, camera phones and personal data assistants (PDAs).
According to the judgeâs order, the county security staff and the McKean County Sheriffâs Department is responsible for âenforcement of this policy.â
As a courtesy, the security officers will provide a âlockboxâ for storing cell phones and electronic devices while individuals are in court. The county is not responsible for the damage or loss of devices left in the âlockbox,â the judge said in his order.
In a memo that accompanied his order, Pavlock pointed out that the county court has had ânumerous issues with individuals inadvertently forgetting to turn off their phones and having them ringâor blare out an old AC-DC or rock tuneâ during court sessions.
Pavlock also said he is â100 percent certainâ that he has âwitnessed individuals sneak off a text message or âtweet' on their cellphones in the courtroom.
âI could and would continue to just put up with these disruptions and hand out a few sanctions every now and then to discourage them,â Pavlock said in his memo. But the judge believes there is âmore at stake here than mere annoyance.â
âTherefore, I have decided to completely ban the possession of cell phones and other electronic devices in the courtroom,â he said.
A report that also accompanies Pavlockâs ruling points out that some jurors in U.S. courtrooms have used cell phones to âobtain additional informationâ on the cases before them.