"If you guys have any cell phones, don't even think about bringing them in there."
Alamo herself had been turned away minutes before, because she carried a cell phone. She came to court from
"The rule before was that you could just turn it off," said Alamo, who had a hearing in traffic court. "So I came here with it and now I don't know where I'm going to put it."
The ban on cell phones, laptops, tablet computers and other personal electronic devices at
Anyone entering the courthouse must pass through a metal detector and have their belongings scanned.
Those who carry banned devices will be denied entry. Anyone caught with a prohibited device inside the court can be charged with contempt, said Trial Court Administrator
Court officials announced the ban in November, explaining that cell phones going off in the courtroom had become too much of a nuisance.
They also said there were safety concerns after someone was caught taking pictures of officers on the stand during a hearing on a drug case last summer.
Defense attorneys, prosecutors, court personnel, law enforcement officers and others with special badges from the county are exempted from the ban, as are those serving jury duty.
Security guards at the entrance to the courthouse in
Many of those turned away on Monday took their phones to their cars, but were still annoyed at the ban.
"I own my own business and I can do work (on a smart phone) while waiting, ... like in the hallways. You can function a little," said
Those who came by public transportation or who were dropped off and had nowhere to store their devices tried to decide what to do.
Fowler just shook his head and apologized.
"That's crazy," Boykin said. "I think this is very ridiculous. I don't even care about the ban. I just wish there was somewhere I could put it."
Boykin eventually got in, after she found someone outside willing to hold onto her phone.
"If I wasn't here, she wouldn't be able to go to court," Brooks said. "If you come here on a bus, and you have a cell phone, you can get a failure to appear. I feel that's unnecessary."
Whether the courthouse will provide a place to store cellphones at the courthouse has not yet been determined, Fowler said.
"We're going to be looking at that, and if adjustments need to be made, they'll be made," Fowler said Monday.
The courthouse has a small number of locked boxes for items like pocketknives that aren't allowed in, but the boxes fill up fairly quickly, Fowler said.
Initially, court officials said payphones would be installed at the courthouse. The security director said Monday that a vendor has been chosen, and that the phones could be installed as soon as next week.
Not everyone at the courthouse Monday was upset about the ban.
"I don't see a problem," said
Anyone who has to appear in court may apply in advance to be exempted. Make the request in writing to
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