Saginaw County bans electronic devices in courtrooms - WNEM TV 5

Saginaw County bans electronic devices in courtrooms

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Starting today, cell phone users are being asked to hang up and hide away their mobile phones and other electronic devices before they enter the Saginaw County Courthouse. 

Saginaw County Judges are asking people to keep their cell phones in their car because mobile devices are no longer allowed in courtrooms or other areas that the courts control.

The main reason for the cell phone ban is to help protect witnesses that testify in high profile cases said Judge Patrick McGraw.

"Just last week we caught someone taking pictures of witnesses, the judge and the court reporter.  They do that for intimidation and we need people to be able to testify without the fear of their picture being distributed," said McGraw.

The rule, he says, is also meant to protect the integrity of our judicial system.

"We've had some people were texting testimonies to other witnesses, some of the jurors were doing outside research on their phones," said McGraw.

"We do have a lot of high profile cases so judges have the right and the authority to not allow cell phones in their courtrooms," said Sheriff Bill Federspiel.

Sheriff Federspiel understands the new policy might take some getting used to.

"I understand people are going to be upset, but we are asking them to be patient with us," said Federspiel.

In the end, Judge McGraw says all of us should look at the big picture now that the county is asking us to disconnect from our favorite electronic device.

"We didn't want to do this, we don't want to make things harder for people but we feel we needed to for the safety and security of our public," said McGraw.

There are some exceptions to the electronic device ban.  Judges can permit cell phones for couples getting married in the courts, witnesses who have evidence on a phone, and professionals who need phones to perform their job including the media.

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