FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — A judge has found a Fort Wayne radio reporter in contempt of court and ordered his smartphone destroyed because he used it during a hearing where a man pleaded guilty to the fatal bludgeoning of a 9-year-old girl.
WOWO-AM news director Dave Wheaton told Allen County Judge Fran Gull during a hearing Tuesday he didn't see signs warning that cellphones and other electronic devices weren't allowed in the courthouse. The ban went into effect in 2007 after cellphone cameras were used to take pictures and videos of witnesses and jurors in a murder case.
Sheriff's Sgt. Brian Sandberg testified that Wheaton was sending a text message during a hearing Friday when Michael Plumadore pleaded guilty to murder, The Journal Gazette (http://bit.ly/JjkZ5h ) reported.
WOWO operations manager Gregg Henson says Wheaton's cellphone was vibrating because others at the station were texting about what they knew about the case. Henson said Wheaton was trying to turn the device off when it was confiscated.
He also said that while the station wants its employees to follow the rules, he said in this case the lines are blurred because Wheaton uses the device as reporter's notebook.
"He types all his notes in his phone, much like some reporters with iPads do," he said. "He uses it as a notebook and you know they can't touch your notebook."
Henson said Gull is going to allow the station to retrieve the information on the device before it is destroyed.
Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net