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Juror gets sent to jail by judge for texting during a trial

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Detailed by The Oregonian earlier this week, 26-year-old Benjamin Kohler learned that ignoring a judge’s instructions regarding the use of electronic mobile devices during a trial is basically a stupid idea. Serving on a jury during an armed robbery trial that was supposed to last just a few days, Kohler listened as Judge Dennis Graves told the panel to pay attention to all witnesses and evidence. In order to get the jury members to pay complete attention, the judge forbid any use of mobile phones during the trial for activities like texting or checking Facebook. 

ben-kohlerDuring a round of testimony from a police officer, the lights were dimmed in the room in order to watch a surveillance video related to the armed robbery. When Judge Graves looked over to the jury, he quickly spotted a glowing light bouncing off the shirt of Benjamin Kohler.

At this point, the judge cleared the courtroom with the exception of Kohler and told the court’s bailiff to take Kohler into custody on a contempt of court charge. There are no bail options available for a contempt of court charge, thus Kohler had to sit locked up in jail for two full days. An alternate juror took Kohler’s place and the trial continued as planned. 

In a statement released to the press regarding the incident, Judge Graves said “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.” Kohler was released on late Wednesday and the trial was completed on Thursday after the jury quickly returned a guilty verdict.