Late yesterday, I received an email sent to all practicing attorneys admitted to the local federal court. I have few cases in the main part of that court and am in the building maybe twice a year, but the issue in question also affects the two Bankruptcy Court buildings I largely live in during the workday in two cities.
The issue is PED's. Not the A-Rod kind, but the Personal Electronic Device kind. With the advent of smartphones and even earlier mobiles with cameras, judges started banning the things at the security desk, since heaven forbid we ever get a picture of one of these Hooded Figures. After years of complaints to the bench, the District Court finally allowed practicing attorneys, who get a photo ID and sign a solemn vow of non-photography, to carry their devices in.
Ah, but into where, and for what? Yesterday's memo reminded us all about it. I shall report, with commentary:
Except as provided in the Order, no person can possess or use a PED within our courthouses.
So Maxwell Smart's in contempt if he tries to sneak that shoe phone past the metal detector.
Any member of the bar of this Court, including any attorney admitted pro hac vice, who possesses a valid court-issued identification card may bring a PED into the courthouse.
Yay! That's ME! But wait....
PEDs may not be shared with any other person, including clients.
Thereby defeating one of the many useful functions of having the thing with you- to enable a client to pull up an email, or a phone number or other fact, which might be the reason you were IN the courthouse in the first place.
No PED may be brought into any courtroom or chambers if the judge to whom the courtroom or chambers is assigned prohibits such devices.
Yeah, we know. One judge has a total jones about this; he required us, when we got the cards, to sign a Him-specific addendum saying we would never, ever sully HIS courtroom with the sound of an iPhone whoosh! or an Android ding! And the marshals enforce that addendum at the gate if you are ever appearing before him- which, blessedly, I rarely do.
Attorneys permitted to bring their PEDs into the courthouse must ensure that such devices are turned to silent mode beyond the first floor lobby.
That's fair. It's not like I'm ever watching movies in there or anything ::grins evilly with a note to the NSA that I had headphones in the whole time::
At last, though, we come near the end, where Silly Season really begins:
Attorneys are permitted to use their PEDs in the first floor lobby, attorney conference rooms, telephone rooms and attorney lounge of the Buffalo Courthouse.
The lobby is beautiful but useless from a functional standpoint. The conference rooms are nice but are often filled up, especially on motion days where lots of kibbitzing is going on. The telephone rooms are essentially closets. Never been IN the attorney lounge, but I have been in the courthouse law library, where you can't find an AC outlet for a laptop-style PED without literally ripping covers out of the plush carpeting to get to the cleaning-lady plugs.
PEDs may not be used in any other area, including courtrooms and lobbies outside of courtrooms, for any reason, without the express permission of the presiding judge.
At last, the ultimate stupid. For why do we bring these with us? Not to play Candy Crush, but to check our calendars for our availability on possible adjourned dates for things, and to have SOMETHING to read while waiting for judges who habitually show up 5-15 minutes late (not that we would ever do such a thing to THEM). So now, for either of those functions, as the memo goes, I must ask Judge Whoever for express permission before whipping it out to check my availability- and, since, Judge W isn't there when I'm waiting, I can't ask anybody and will have to sit there with my folded-up newspaper doing the crossword puzzle like the old-school guys do.
"Use" of a PED includes telephonic communication, texting and accessing the Internet.
Therein lies the solution, at least for me. For it seems that if I click my phone into airplane mode before leaving the lobby, I can access my calendar, listen to prior voicemails, and read anything else onboard the device without literally doing any of the Bad Things. I suppose I can even watch Dexter slashing people to death with a kitchen knife as long as nobody can hear him. I'll just need to figure out a way to remember to turn the 4G/Internet access back on when I leave the crib.
Now to go look and see if the Times crossword puzzle is available on mobile platforms:P
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