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Las Vegas Judge Threatens Reporter Over Cell Phone Use

Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen made news back in May when he handcuffed a Clark County public defender for contempt of court. 

Since then, a different judge threw out the contempt charge, and Hafen lost his re-election bid. 

But he still has some months remaining on the bench, and another issue came up in his courtroom recently when Hafen told a reporter he would arrest him if he used his phone in court.

Las Vegas Review-Journal courts reporter David Ferrara told KNPR's State of Nevada the incident started when a clerical mix-up meant that paperwork to allow one of the newspaper's photographers into the courtroom was not filed.

Ferrara had to quickly file the paperwork, but it was denied by Judge Hafen. Ferrara said it's unusual for a judge to deny access, especially if there are other cameras present, which there were. That day, a TV news crew was also recording the hearing.

“We’ve done requests very last minute and in the cases I’ve done it, it has always been granted,” he said.

The marshal refused to let the photographer in to the proceedings and also tried to stop Ferrara from entering. When Ferrara pointed out he was allowed to be in courtroom, he let him in. However, he was told he could not use his cell phone because it might be used to take photographs.

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Ferrara argued that he is allowed to use is phone to record audio during court proceedings and he could set it on the bench while recording, which would make it clear that he wasn't using it to take pictures.

It was at that point that Ferrara said the Judge told him he couldn't use his phone or he would be handcuffed. Instead of being arrested, he called one of his editors, who contacted the newspaper's attorney. 

The Review-Journal has filed a motion in the case but hasn't yet been heard by the judge. 

 

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David Ferrara, reporter, Las Vegas Review-Journal

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