Come January 2019, Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett will place a box in the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court for the collection of mobile devices that ring out loud while the court is in session.
He made the announcement on Tuesday after a police officer’s phone rang while he was sitting at the bar table.
The officer left the court quickly while trying to silence the device, which appeared to have been in his trousers’ pocket.
“I thought by now everyone in St. Vincent and the Grenadines should know that you cannot allow your phone to ring in court or in a church,” Burnett said.
The magistrate said he normally hears, from his office, the court orderlies announcing to persons with interest in court matters to turn off their mobile devices or place them in vibrate mode before entering the court.
“Police officers, lawyers, member of the public are guilty. This thing must come to an end,” the magistrate said.
Earlier this year, a magistrate suffered the embarrassment of having her phone ring when she was presiding over a matter.
The magistrate apologised for the development.
And even this writer (Kenton X. Chance), quickly apologised to Burnett earlier this year when his mobile device rang out loud at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court.
On Wednesday, one day after Burnett’s comments, a police officer confiscated the phone of a man and passed it to the court clerk after the court proceedings were interrupted by what sounded like a voice note being played on the man’s mobile device.
iWitness News does not know if the device was returned and if so, on what conditions.
A former chief magistrate was in the habit of confiscating mobile devices that interrupted her court and ordering the owners to pay the state EC$100 to get them back.