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Signs of the Times: Cell Phone Penalties Rise, But Rules Are Ignored.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | June 8, 2016

No. 1,261

If your cell phone rings in the courtroom in the Allegheny County Common Pleas Criminal Division, expect it to be confiscated and expect to pay the Clerk of Courts $175.00 (according to one tipstaff) to get it back. An older sign stated that the penalty was $50.00.  Apparently that didn’t work. Nevertheless, at $175.00, the fine probably exceeds the cost of some phones.

The Rule applies to all electronics, so that means that you should turn off the sound in your iPad in your brief case and put your Apple Watch on airplane mode. This could be really, really expensive.  When the ringer sound in the iPhone, iPad and watch are all turned on, a single call could set them all ringing away — resulting in a triple confiscation.

There is only one small section of the hall on the fifth floor where cell phones are allowed.  I assume the same situation applies on the other floors.  The remainder of the hallways are posted with signs prohibiting cell phone use, except in the specified area.  But I couldn’t help noticing that at least half of the people waiting in full view of three such signs were either talking, texting or browsing on their cell phones.  I wish I could have taken a few pictures, but, of course, cell phone usage is prohibited.

Even inside the courtroom I saw several defendants-in-waiting using the phone.  Of course, the court was not in session yet — but still.  This is not very smart.


Cell phone sign



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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