Juror jailed for texting in court

Juror jailed for texting in court
Benjamin Kohler spent a night in jail after a judge caught him using a cell phone while sitting on a jury

SALEM, Ore. - When the courtroom lights dimmed for video evidence Tuesday, the judge noticed light reflecting off the chest of one of the jurors.

Judge Dennis Graves called for a recess, cleared the courtroom and excused the jurors - except for 26-year-old Benjamin Kohler of Salem.

Kohler, who appeared to be texting while sitting on the jury for a criminal case, couldn't explain his actions.

In light of his repeated prior warnings not to use a cell phone in court, Judge Graves ordered Kohler into custody for contempt of court.

Kohler was arrested and transported to the Marion County Jail, charged with contempt of court, the sheriff's office said. There is no bail for this charge.

The court resumed the trial with an alternate juror.

"The duty to serve as a juror must be taken very seriously," Judge Graves said. "Every juror has the responsibility to devote his entire attention to the witnesses and evidence being presented.  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."

Judge Graves said he hoped that his decision to hold Kohler in contempt will serve as a lesson to all future jurors. He ordered Kohler released from jail late Wednesday evening, sparing the man a second night in jail.

The case wrapped up Thursday with the defendant convicted on all charges.