Judge Robert M. Restaino , City Court Judge in Niagara Falls, New York, jailed 46 people after unsuccessfully trying to determine whose cell phone had disrupted the court proceedings.
When repeated threats, and an attempt by security officers to locate the culprit, proved fruitless, the judge ordered that the entire courtroom be taken into custody and set bail at $1500. The detainees were then taken to the Niagara City jail, searched, and placed into cells. Fourteen individuals, who were unable to post bail, were shackled and transported to county jail. Only after word of the debacle reached the media did Judge Restaino order the group's release.
While the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, in Glavin v. Restaino , concluded that Restaino could not be sued since he did not act "in clear absence of jurisdiction when he punished [the group] for the courtroom disturbances," it noted that the Judge's conduct was "entirely inappropriate" and was "gratified" to learn that New York's disciplinary authorities were conducting an inquiry into the matter.
Sure enough, on November 13, 2007, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct found that Restaino had acted like a "petty tyrant," and had engaged in "an egregious and unprecedented abuse of judicial power," which warranted a recommendation that he be removed from office.
Although Restaino has 30 days to appeal the Commission 's decision, should he opt to challenge the determination, his prospects don't look too rosy.
Will this "tyrant" be sent to the gallows? (Until there's an ultimate resolution of this case, we are going to restraino from commenting further.)