Judge Edmund Bart

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* * * CHICAGO TRIBUNE: A judge's authority in the courtroom is considerable, but there are times when those wielding the gavel seem to mistake it for a sledgehammer. For example, there's DuPage County Associate Judge Edmund Bart, who has taken extreme offense to Traffic Court visitors who allow cellular phones or pagers to ring when court is in session. He has dealt with them extremely--by throwing those visitors behind bars. Bart's "off with their beepers" approach came to light recently when one man was ordered held on a contempt citation, fingerprinted, frisked and jailed overnight because he had not turned off his pocket phone . . . The cellular revolution has created an explosion of interruption and irritation in public venues. The inconsiderate use of portable communicators sometimes borders on arrogance--that one person's wireless availability is more important than everyone else's comfort, privacy or thought processes. The penalty, however, is supposed to fit (not firebomb) the crime . . . Bart isn't the only judge who recently let his powers go to his head. Cook County Judge James T. Ryan, placed in the doghouse a year ago for refusing a defendant's plea to use the bathroom, shocked a mother when he told her two young daughters they would "go to hell" if they lied in court.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE http://chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/article/0,2669,SAV-0011110086,FF.html

-- rich (zpub@sirius.com), November 15, 2000

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