He jailed 46 over ringing phone; now he’s gone

/ Source: The Associated Press

New York's top court has upheld the removal of a Niagara Falls city court judge who jailed 46 people after no one would own up to a cell phone that rang in court.

The state Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded in a November decision that Judge Robert Restaino "snapped" during the March 2005 session. It voted 9-1 for his removal.

Restaino was hearing domestic violence cases when the phone rang. He released everyone later that day.

He says he was wrong and under personal stress at the time. He says his record was otherwise unblemished and there would be no similar incidents.

The New York State Court of Appeals on Thursday unanimously upheld his removal. It calls punishing innocent people "inexcusable."