Jan 28, 2014

Why aren't cell phones allowed in the Erie County Courthouse?

I've always wondered: Why aren't cell phones permitted in the courthouse? Andrew in Sandusky

A ban on cell phones at the Erie County Courthouse has been in place for almost four years.

Everyone other than workers, attorneys and media members with credentials can bring in cell phones, computers and the like into the courthouse.

Erie County Juvenile Court Judge Robert DeLamatre, one of four Erie County Common Pleas Court judges, provided the following answer as to why that is and if it the policy will change:

My current policy view is that the rule has fulfilled it's purpose and should probably stay in place. Originally, I was a proponent for even more ridged rules that would have prohibited more people than was ultimately agreed to, but that is my personal opinion based on my job which has much more confidentiality than the other courts.  

The reasons for the rule are numerous. Most frequently the phones were simply causing disruptions of court proceedings by going off during hearings. The rule has virtually eliminated this issue.  

In juvenile court, we had several people who were taking pictures of youth appearing before the court, and a few even ended up posted on the web. This has been eliminated by the rule. The other judges expressed concern over those issues as well as reporting concerns of pictures of jurors had being taken by audience members and they feared intimidation would occur as a result.  

Next, juror's use of devices to research issues during trial was expressed as a concerns. These issues have all been seen in other courthouses as well as ours. While the rules vary from county to county, virtually all courts now have rules in place to address these issues. These issues are virtually eliminated as a result of the rule.

When we discussed this rule with the courthouse security committee, they express concerns about the breadth of the proposal and exceptions were discussed. The bar association argued that attorney's need their phones for scheduling and the like. Employees argued that they need their phones for work purposes and that they generally are not in court proceedings therefore unlikely to disrupt/corrupt in some way. The press and other professionals entering the building were also mentioned as necessary to fulfill their job duties. As a result, we made the exceptions that exist today which was calculated to balance the need for a phone with the issues I mentioned above. Circumstances outside those exceptions are to be dealt with by the appropriate/assigned Judge who all have authority to waive the restriction on a case by case basis.

I do not anticipate a change to the rule at this time.  Actually the rules can be imposed or changed in a few different ways.  Most commonly in other counties, the rules are part of the Court's local rules of practice.  We decided to approach it from the courthouse security angle since several divisions are housed in the same building and creating new rules for multiple divisions was more difficult than one rule and lastly because the most concerning issues relate to safety and security (witness intimidation, unauthorized recording/pictures, corruption of the court proceedings).  County policies approved by the Commissioners can also set regulations on this issue.  

Hopefully, this helps you understand the dynamics of the rule.  If you need anything else or if you have other questions let me know.

The Mailbag is a daily feature on sanduskyregister.com. Each weekday at noon, we will post one question from a reader and answer it. To ask a question, send a letter to The Mailbag at 314 W. Market St., or email mailbag@sanduskyregister.com. Please include your first name and a location in the email, e.g. “John from Decatur Street."


Man of the Republic

Judge DeLamatre always a class act. Good explanation by the Judge.

nosey rosey

Simple. Because the majority of people think that life is all about them and they don't have the common courtesy to turn their phones off when in public.


My major concern that he expressed was the breach of confidentiality during juvenile court proceedings.That right there should be explanation enough.

Julie R.

"Erie County Juvenile Court judge Robert Delamatre, one of four Erie County Common Pleas Court judges ..........."

How could Delamatre be a common pleas court judge in addition to being a juvenile court judge? Same with Beverly McGookey. How did she get to be a common pleas court judge in addition to being a probate court judge when a common pleas court judge is an elected position?

These jokes in Erie County sure are getting away with a lot of crap.

Fibber Mcgee

You know, I really don't care. The question was about cellphone use in the courthouse. The Judge gave a very good answer. You need to give a rest.


Julie, don't come in here and taint this thread with you hatred.

You should have this conversation at Terry's Tavern with Babo, she could really enlighten you with her techniques on how to intimidate judges. You two are perfect for each other.

Julie R.

Intimidate judges? That sure is a joke. Would you like to hear that idiot (if not hilarious) intimidation tactic the jokes at the Erie County courthouse pulled off on me three days after I filed legitimate complaints in the Erie County probate court, that included complaints against an attorney from their favorite Lorain County law firm?

Man of the Republic

You obviously don't understand how the common pleas court works. There are different divisions in the CPC. Probate Division, Juvenile/Family Division, General Division, etc. So all of the Judges sit on the CPC, but are in charge of heading up different divisions of said court. Hope that helps clear up the big conspiracy...

Julie R.

So if Erie County has 4 common pleas court judges plus the common pleas court judges Tone & Binette can also serve as probate court judges, why is Erie County still using those corrupt old rent-a-judges in the probate court? Even better, why are they working in collusion with snake attorneys to file & dismiss bogus sham lawsuits in the jurisdiction of Cuyahoga County when corrupt Cuyahoga County has nothing to do with the probate estates of life-long Erie County residents?

Man of the Republic

You'd do well for yourself to present facts before spewing venom. The only valid question in there is why do Tone and Binette hear cases in the probate court, and, in essence, the answer is that they are more than qualified to hear those cases. Although one judge might head up a certain department, it doesn't mean that another cannot hear cases. Everything else is hogwash until you can start citing specifics.

Julie R.

An even better valid question might be ---- WHY are there so many probate court cases in Erie County?

My answer would be ---- auditors that authorize fraudulent transfers of property belonging to the elderly, recorders that knowingly file fraud documents, a probate court that gives their attorney friends & financial institutions two years after an elderly person's death to get all assets left from criminally changed contracts out of their names before filing a forged Will, who then works in collusion with the common pleas court to sell fraudulently transferred property at a scam sheriff sale under a fraud preliminary judicial report ..... etc., etc.

I would have to say that people in Erie County have a heck of a lot more to worry about than why cells phones aren't allowed in the corrupt Erie County courthouse!

Man of the Republic

Again you are dropping a lot of allegations without citing any real specific examples. I guess, in this case, the only way to help explain this to you. Evil wizards control the Erie County judicial system and that's why there is so much corruption. The only way to kill them is to punch them as hard as you can right in their faces.

Julie R.

Those aren't allegations, those are facts. As for specific examples, what matter of public record number would you like?

Man of the Republic

You can't say something is a fact without evidence, you've made a number of allegations here, I would go with 2 or 3 documented cases in which these allegations have been proven to be true will suffice for me.

Julie R.

Just out of curiosity --- do ALL Ohio Probate Courts give attorneys & financial institutions two years after an elderly person's death to get all assets left from criminally changed trust contracts out of their names before filing a forged Will and a piece of paper that says "there are no more assets left in the decedent's name" like ERIE COUNTY does?

Also, do ALL Ohio Common Pleas Courts force fraudulently transferred property to be sold at scam sheriff sales through scam partition actions and fraud preliminary judicial reports that falsely state there are no defects in the title like ERIE COUNTY does?


Thank you for taking the time to give such an in depth answer, Judge DeLamatre. I think this was one of the most detailed answers that has been sent back to the Mailbag. I appreciate the time you took out of your busy schedule to explain the cell phone policy.

Julie R.

So who really cares about cell phones in the Erie County courthouse? Cell phones haven't been allowed in courthouses for years so why would anybody even ask that stupid question that's already been answered a dozen times over?

I'm more curious as to how the Probate Court Judge Beverly McGookey and the Juvenile Court Judge Robert DeLamatre got the title of common pleas judges when a Common Pleas Court Judge is an ELECTED position. Also, considering how Eeerie County claimed they needed another Common Pleas Court judge ~ Roger Binette in addition to Tygh Tone ~ to handle the supposed backlog of cases left behind by Judge Maschari, I'm even more curious as to WHY Erie County would need 2 more, bringing the total of Common Pleas Court Judges in one-horse Erie County to 4.

Even more so, I'm curious as to why the 2 Common Pleas Court judges Tone & Binette right off the bat after being elected were handling PROBATE cases after the sheep were told it was the backlog of cases left behind by Maschari they were supposed to be handling.

Should I send my question to the SR mailbag?


Lol. Persistent little squirrel aren't we?!?


Actually you raise a very valid point about the use of retired visiting judges in a county with four Common Pleas Court judges.
There is no reason to use a retired visiting judge unless every judge in the county has a conflict of interest.

Julie R.

"In a county with four Common Pleas Court judges ......... there is no reason to use a retired visiting judge unless every judge in the county has a conflict of interest."

You sure are correct there but you forgot one:

In a county with four Common Pleas Court judges ~ in addition to two more probate court judges (Tone & Binette) ~ there shouldn't be any reason for the jokes at the courthouse to be working in collusion with snake attorneys to file and dismiss bogus sham lawsuits in the jurisdiction of Cuyahoga County, either --- a jurisdiction that has nothing to do with the Erie County probate estates of life-long Erie County residents.

I also would be curious to know who paid for that bogus lawsuit they pulled off in corrupt Cuyahoga County. I mean, there were never any hearings or anything but I'm sure the Cuyahoga County judge got paid something for allowing them to file & dismiss a bogus sham bunch of crap in her court.


Cell phones are no longer just phones anymore, they are recording devices and cameras.


Good point. This probably is the real reason for not allowing the devices as Erie County uses a recording system to transcribe court proceedings.

If someone has another recording and it shows the court recording differs, well then that would be a big problem. There are a few cases where the court recording went missing or parties claimed it was altered/sanitized.

Many courts have the bailiff just announce before proceedings to shut the phones off or be held in contempt. It's a pretty simple solution.

Julie R.

Don't know if it's true but I heard through the grapevine that at one time there was a big family feud going on in the Erie County probate estate of a DeLamatre, that was eerily similar to the family feud in the probate estates of the Baxters.

If that's true, do I need to ask what the outcome was?