SALEM – A Salem juror was held in contempt of court for texting during a trial Tuesday.
Benjamin Kohler, 26, served a two-day sentence after the judge in a criminal armed robbery trial saw him texting in court, said Don Thomson with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
At the beginning of the trial, Judge Dennis Graves gave standard jury instructions including how long the trial would last and that each juror needed to pay close attention to all the evidence of the case. Graves said several times the use of cell phones in court was not allowed.
The courtroom lights dimmed while a video was playing of the arresting officer interviewing the defendant. That’s when Graves saw a light reflecting on Kohler’s chest making it obvious that he was texting, Thomson said.
Graves immediately called for a recess and cleared the courtroom, excusing all jurors except Kohler who had no explanation for his actions.
He was then taken into custody for contempt of court and taken to jail.
"I know what I did wasn't smart and I don't blame the judge for being upset but two days in jail is harsh," Kohler said Thursday.
"The duty to serve as a juror must be taken very seriously. Every juror has the responsibility to devote his entire attention to the witnesses and evidence being presented,” Graves said in a press release to KGW. “In this case, Mr. Kohler failed to meet his obligations and failed to honor the direction of this court. My hope is that he will use his time in jail to reflect upon his behavior."
There was no bail for the charge.