An Oregon juror was sentenced to two days in jail Tuesday
after a judge held him in contempt for texting during a trial.
Benjamin Kohler, 26, of Salem, Ore., was selected to serve on the jury for a criminal armed robbery trial Tuesday. At the beginning of the proceedings, Judge Dennis Graves gave all jurors a list of standard instructions, including how long the trial would last, and the rule that cell phones were not allowed in court.
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Deputies said the cell phone warning was given to the group several times, according to Fox 12 Oregon.
At one point during the trial Tuesday the court lights were dimmed so a video could be shown of a Salem police officer interviewing the defendant. Graved then noticed a light in the back of the room — the backlight on Kohler's cell phone, said Don Thomson of the Marion County Sheriff's Office.
Graves reportedly called for an immediate recess, and dismissed all of the jurors except for Kohler, who was taken into custody and charged with contempt of court. He was sentenced to two days in jail.
"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," Graves said in a press release. "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."
There was no bail set for the charge and Kohler was released Thursday.
"I know what I did wasn't smart and I don't blame the judge for being upset but two days in jail is harsh," Kohler told reporters when he was released. "The attorneys had no objection to what I had done but the judge overruled and held me in contempt."
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