Jefferson County To Ban Electronic Devices In Courthouse

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HILLSBORO, MO (KTVI) –Residents of Jefferson County may be in for a surprise if they show up to the courthouse with a cell phone or other electronic gadget next week.  Beginning Tuesday, all such items will be banned from the building.

The move comes in conjunction with the sheriff’s department taking over security at the building.  Among the reasons to make the move, distraction isn’t as high on the list as you might think.

“Phones will ring, and they’re inconvenient and they disturb sometimes, but I don’t think that’s the reason for the measure,” Jefferson County Judge Troy Cardona said.  “I think it’s just for security. And people won’t like that the rule is in place but it’s for their protection.”

Security concerns include the ability of people to communicate quickly with those outside.  Meanwhile sheriff’s officials have been quoted saying the ability of phones to do so many other things, like take pictures and record video, as important factors.  Cardona agrees.

“Yeah, courtrooms are open to the public, but again, like I said there’s a rule in place that even allows media to have to get permission to do it. So why should an individual be able to do it.”

Residents have mixed emotions, with some feeling possession of their phone is almost a right.

“That’s crazy,” Mike Walker said.  “That’s what they’re for, so people can have a way to get ahold of somebody no matter where you’re at.  Highways, airplanes, cars, anywhere.  That’s why you have a cordless leash.”

But others say it makes sense.

“I work at the high school in town and I can tell you we deal with cell phones quite a bit with students, Mark Groner said.  “I can understand their distraction. I think we’re all trying to figure out in society where it is acceptable to use a cell phone and where it isn’t.”

The ban applies to phones, tablets, laptops, and all other electronics.  Those who work in the courthouse and attorneys will be exempt from the ban.  It goes into effect when the courts reopen Tuesday.