Cell Phone Calls a No-No on the Witness Stand

Sometimes, a judge’s duties go beyond rulings on legal issues and deciding objections during a trial.

Sometimes, they must enforce court decorum.

Yesterday, Ernesto Santana sat in the witness chair during a rape trial when his cell phone went off – it was on silent or vibrate.

The judge and lawyers were out of the room discussing a legal issue away from the jury .The case involves a rape charge against Rony Veras and Santana was a prosecution witness.

Santana asked the court officer if he could return the call to his wife. The court officer seems rather non-plussed and spoke to Judge William Kelly.

Kelly returned courtroom and spoke with Santana. HeĀ  told Santana he couldn’t use his phone on the witness stand and he shouldn’t even have his phone with him. Santana told the judge he needed to call his wife about picking her up or their two kids up.

Kelly, figuring Santana should be concentrating on his testimony, then took Santana’s cell phone and gave it to the court officer. The judge told Santana he could have his phone back after his testimony.

Steve Lieberman

Steve Lieberman joined The Journal News as an editor in February 1984 and became a reporter during the spring of 1986. He has covered police, courts and legal issues for more than a decade, after reporting on county, town, village and state governments and general issues. He received more than a dozen state awards for writing and reporting. Born and raised in The Bronx, he has lived in Rockland since 1988.