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New year, new cell phone rule at judicial center

Don't take your cell phone along on business at the Ogle County Judicial Center.

Beginning Jan. 1, cell phones and other electronic devices are no longer allowed in the building.

Ogle County Sheriff Mike Harn said the devices have disrupted court proceedings a little too often.

"It's been an ongoing problem with cell phones disrupting courtroom proceedings," Harn said. "I was there one day last week when someone's phone rang during court and he answered it."

Harn said he has also observed people taking video and still photos during court proceedings, which is prohibited by the state statutes.

Last summer, the Illinois Supreme Court approved allowing the media to take cameras into courtrooms, but only with permission from a judge on a case by case basis.

Harn said his staff is updating an administrative order issued by now-retired Judge Stephen Pemberton in 2006.

That order banned cell phones and other electronic devices capable of recording from going past the security checkpoint in the main lobby of the judicial center.

The rule was later relaxed to allow cell phones in the courtrooms as long as they were shut off and not used.

Harn said certain exemptions will be made for attorneys, judicial center employees, court security officers, and law enforcement officers.

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