Judge Rocky Coss has long had a firm rule about cell phones ringing during proceedings in the Highland County Common Pleas Courtroom, holding in contempt anyone who violated that rule. On Tuesday, he had to find himself in contempt of court for a cell phone violation.
Coss unknowingly carried his cell phone into court for a hearing and, lo and behold, his wife, Gayle, called him, leading to embarrassment for the judge and his decision to hold himself in contempt and fine himself $25.
“In accordance with my standing rule of zero tolerance for ringing cell phones during court proceedings, I was guilty of contempt for my ringing cell phone disrupting the proceedings,” Coss said in an email ‘fessing up to the violation.
“The attorneys nearly suffered physical injury trying to avoid laughing,” wrote Coss.
“Since the judge must be held to the same rules that others are expected to follow, I had no choice but to fine myself $25 and file the entry finding myself in contempt,” wrote Coss. “The fine was paid in cash on the record.”
Coss said he thought his claim to fame would be as the only judge in Ohio with a scarlet and gray robe, a gift presented to him recently by his wife in honor of the judge’s devotion to the Ohio State Buckeyes.
“But now I am probably the only judge in Ohio to find himself/herself in contempt and pay the fine,” wrote Coss.
Coss said he is considering having the bailiff search him before he goes into court to avoid being a repeat offender.
“We have never had a repeat offender on the cell phone violation and I certainly do not want to be the first in that category,” said Coss.