Champaign County Courthouse Expands Electronics Ban
By Jeff Bossert
Cell phones have now been banned at the Champaign County Courthouse for more than 5 years.
This week, that ban is expanded to include all electronics, including laptop computers, I-Pads, and e-readers.
The order by Presiding Judge Tom Difanis was brought on by a Supreme Court ruling that instructs jurors not to engage in web research during a trial.
Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh says the public has been warned with signage, and cards handed out to those who have entered the courthouse recently. He says not only can online research create problems, but there’s nowhere for court staff to put such equipment once it's taken from those entering.
"You look inside the courthouse, and the way it's designed, there's really no room to put in lockers, or have storage for folks," he said. "We have had rare occasions where people have tried to intimidate witnesses, and we are concerned that we don't want that to happen, and we don't happen people to intimidate jurors, and we certainly don't want their pictures broadcast all over."
Walsh says exceptions will be made for cameras for those getting married at the courthouse.
The cell phone ban went into effect in March of 2007, but Walsh says people are still sent back to their cars who try to bring them in. Exceptions are still made for some - including doctors, lawyers, and the media.