Judge fines himself
A judge whose smartphone disrupted a hearing in his own courtroom has held himself in contempt and paid US$25 for the infraction. Judge Raymond Voet has a posted policy stating that electronic devices causing a disturbance during court sessions will result in the owner being cited with contempt, the Sentinel-Standard of Ionia and www.MLive.com reported. On Friday afternoon, during a prosecutor’s closing argument, Voet’s smartphone began to emit sounds. “I’m guessing I bumped it. It started talking really loud, saying ‘I can’t understand you. Say something like Mom,’” he said. Over the years, the judge has taken phones away from police officers, attorneys, witnesses, spectators and friends. Voet held himself in contempt, fined himself and paid the fine. “Judges are humans,” Voet said. “They’re not above the rules. I broke the rule and I have to live by it.”
Cleaver case deadlocked
A jury has deadlocked in the murder trial of a mental patient who slashed a New York City psychotherapist to death with a meat cleaver. A judge declared a mistrial on Tuesday after jurors said they could not reach a verdict in David Tarloff’s case. Tarloff did not dispute that he killed Kathryn Faughey in February 2008. However, defense lawyers say Tarloff’s schizophrenia made him so psychotic that he could not tell that what he was doing was wrong. Tarloff told authorities he set out to rob Faughey’s officemate, encountered her instead and thought she was evil. Tarloff envisioned getting money from the hold-up to whisk his sick mother away to Hawaii.
Prayer-rug fire leads to jail
A man who set fire to a prayer rug in an Ohio mosque was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to hate crime charges, officials said on Tuesday. “Hate crimes like this seek to damage more than buildings, they take aim at our American way of life,” Steven Dettelbach, US Attorney for the northern district of Ohio, said in a statement. “But today’s 20-year prison sentence and the coming together of this community to support our Muslim neighbors show that our freedoms are stronger and more resilient than this man’s hatred.” Randolph Linn, 52, admitted to going to the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo with the intent to damage a Muslim house of worship on Sept. 30 last year. He tried several times to get into the center before he finally managed to break in, prosecutors said. Linn admitted walking through rooms with a handgun before stepping back outside to grab a red gas can. He then poured the gasoline over a large rug in the prayer room and set fire to it.
‘Star Wars’ actor passes
Character actor Richard LeParmentier, who as a young Death Star commander learned the hard way that Darth Vader brooks no disrespect, died on Tuesday. He was 66. LeParmentier died unexpectedly on Tuesday morning in Austin, Texas, while visiting his children, his publicist Derek Maki said. Maki said he does not know the cause. LeParmentier was born in Pittsburgh, but moved to Britain in 1974 and had been living in Bath, England, before he died. As Admiral Motti in 1977’s Star Wars, LeParmentier’s character mocks Vader’s “sad devotion to that ancient Jedi religion.” Vader responds with a demonstration, using the force to choke the young commander, but allowing him to live. LeParmentier was working as a screenwriter when he died.