Attack of the ringtones

The courtroom of Westchester County Judge Susan Capeci turned into a “Thriller” this morning, thanks to a ringing cell phone.

As you may know, cell phone use is banned in Westchester courtrooms and signs outside each courtroom door asks people to turn off all electronic devices before they come in (Although many, many lawyers sneak in Blackberry e-mails while waiting for their cases to be called).

Today, during a third-degree grand larceny disposition (that’s plea bargain for the non-attorney types), the cell phone of court interpreter Rossana Testino-Burke rang to the famous Michael Jackson song, cracking up just about everyone around. Even the judge had to put a manilla folder in front of her face to hide her laughter as Testino-Burke scrambled to grab her phone and run toward chambers.

Give credit to the young ADA, however — he didn’t miss a beat and kept on asking the defendant questions to make sure she understood her rights and consequences of her guilty plea.

Count me guilty of forgetting to turn off a cell phone. Early on, my phone rang while a woman testified about she discovered her boyfriend’s murdered body in his home. The chewing out I got from the prosecutor is something I’ve yet to forget. It’s now habit for me to turn my cell phone on “silent” so I can still check messages from editors, co-workers, attorneys, etc.

Ah, cell phones … our own little Lo-Jacks.

Rebecca Baker

Rebecca Baker joined The Journal News in March 2004. She covers Eastchester, Bronxville and Tuckahoe, and was previously the state and county courts reporter in Westchester County. In prior jobs, she covered the Town of Greenburgh and Rockland County government and politics. Before coming to The Journal News, she was a municipal reporter for newspapers in New Haven, Conn. and Warren, Ohio.