Michigan Judge Hugh Clarke Holds Himself In Contempt After Smartphone Rings In Court


Anyone who's ever visited Judge Hugh Clarke's courtroom in Lansing, Mich. knows the rules -- turn off your cellphone or silence it before entering inside.

Violators will have their phone seized by the judge and will be fined $50, according to the Lansing State Journal. It's happened five or 10 times since he created the policy in May. Friday morning, a man Clarke was sentencing for unlawful use of credit cards had his cell phone go off while his attorney was making arguments. The judge took his phone.

So when Clarke's own smartphone went off just a few minutes later during the same sentencing hearing, the Lansing State Journal reports, he upheld the law to the best of his abilities.

He held himself in contempt, pulled $50 out of his pocket and gave it to a court officer.

"Why would I treat myself any different?” asked Clarke, who has served on the 54A District Court since 2010. "That would make me a hypocrite.”

He isn't the first judge to have punished himself for an unlawful use of technology in the courtroom. In April, an Ionia, Mich. judge named Raymond Voet held himself in contempt and fined himself $25 after his smartphone went off in the courtroom. But these two judges have got nothing on the "shirtless judge," Wade McCree of Wayne County Circuit Court in Detroit, when it comes to cellphone-courtroom scandals. McCree, who was rebuked for sending topless cellphone photos of himself to a courtroom deputy, was recently removed from the bench.

“What’s the moral of the story?” Clarke told the Lansing State Journal. “Leave my damn phone in the office.”

Judge Hugh Clark's cellphone sign, courtesy of the Lansing State Journal:

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