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DuPage County, Illinois Associate Judge Edmund Bart is apparently sick of hearing the annoying ring of portable phones and pagers in his courtroom and he’s begun to do something about it — send their owners to jail. The jurist already has tossed three unsuspecting individuals in the slammer, reports the Arlington Heights-based Daily Herald. And while many judges agree that the electronic devices are a nuisance, the paper says no such course of action has been taken in surrounding Cook, Kane or Lake counties. “Unless it was intentional, I wouldn’t call for contempt charges,” Cook County Judge Joseph Urso is quoted as saying. “It does occur. Things do go off. But none of the judges have ever done that.” Bart was not reached by the paper, and his chief judge, Thomas Callum, declined to say if Bart has gone too far. “It’s difficult to say what happened without being there,” Callum is quoted as saying. “A judge has a lot of discretion.” Callum also acknowledged that judges can become annoyed upon hearing the familiar staccato alarm, particularly when there are signs and warnings that phones and pagers must be turned off. One of those jailed, Patrick Mahoney of Bolingbrook, Ill., admitted he was wrong to ignore posted signs and a verbal warning from a sheriff’s deputy. But he told the Daily Herald that when his phone did ring, he quickly exited the courtroom and took the call in the hallway. He didn’t get far before a deputy approached him and took him to jail, where he was fingerprinted, frisked and incarcerated for 19 hours of a four-day sentence. Incredulous, Mahoney told the paper he would have expected a fine, but not jail. “I couldn’t sleep all night,” he is quoted as saying. “I just laid there, curled up in a ball.” Two others have been jailed under similar circumstances, both being sentenced for two days and released within hours of their incarceration.

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