January 01, 2011

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Maryland courts adopt a uniform rule for cell phone use Up to now, each Circuit Court in Maryland has had its own rules for cell phone use, and they varied dramatically. Some Circuits prohibited cell phones entirely, and you had to leave your cell phone in the car. Some prohibited cell phones with cameras. Further, the rules were enforced inconsistently. Just based on my own experience, Circuit Courts that banned cell phones entirely would look the other way on court days when settlement conferences were held. Also, there was different treatment for different types of cell phones. For instance, somehow, Courthouse security guards didn't seem to realize that Iphones have a built-in camera. In fact, the Courts, while wanting to either prohibit or restrict the use of cell phones, obviously came to depend on the fact that counsel would have cell phones. I attended one pretrial/settlement conference in Baltimore City, and informed the mediator that the adjuster would be participating by telephone, as previously authorized by the court. The mediator responded, "There's no speaker phone in the conference room." I said no problem, and set up my cell phone on the table in speaker phone mode, and conferenced in the adjuster. This must go on all the time. Think about it -- how many pay phones do you see in courthouses these days? That's all over now, I hope. Maryland has adopted a uniform rule for cell phone use, effective today. Here is the text of the new rule. The big thing to remember is that the cell phone better...

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