GOSHEN — Cell phones will be banned from the Elkhart County Courthouse starting in January.
The judges of the three courtrooms in the building issued the order Tuesday, banning phones, pagers and other electronic devices from the building. It applies to anyone entering the courthouse except for credentialed attorneys and employees.
The ban starts on Jan. 2. Anyone who brings a phone into the building after that risks being held in contempt of court, according to the judges’ order.
Their phone could also be confiscated and destroyed. Sheriff’s deputies who provide courthouse security are authorized to conduct non-invasive searches of people and property entering the building.
The decision is signed by Circuit Court Judge Michael Christofeno, Superior 3 Judge Teresa Cataldo and Superior 4 Judge Gretchen Lund.
They decided that “it is of paramount importance” to ban electronic devices from the building for the sake of safety and security and to maintain order, the decision states. It says the possession of cell phones and other devices “impedes the duty of the court” in providing safety and security.
Posters were put up throughout the building Thursday telling attorneys how they can receive permission to keep their phones.
Electronic devices have already been banned by certain judges in the courts building in Elkhart.
Phones have been an issue for Christofeno in recent years. He often begins court proceedings with an admonishment for people in the gallery to turn their phones off, and has added a warning not to take photos, under threat of possible jail time, after an incident during a murder trial when a photo of the judge was taken in the courtroom and posted online.