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Defiant Marshal Gets $2,000 Fine for Violating Courtroom Cell Phone Ban

U.S. Deputy Marshal Kara Kinney flouted South Dakota’s federal court rules on coronavirus safety last spring. Now has demonstrated more contempt for Judge Charles Kornmann’s court by violating the ban on cell phones in the courtroom. Judge Kornmann is understandably torqued:

Judge Charles Kornmann has filed an order fining deputy Kara Kinney $2,000 for using her cellphone in court.

…The latest conflict stems from a rule banning electronics in the Aberdeen courtroom. According to signs posted in the building, the rule is supposed to be enforced by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Kornmann says during a hearing last week, Kinney was using her phone and quote “had her head down, paying no attention to the prisoner or the court proceedings.”

The document filed by Kornmann says he stopped the hearing, she didn’t apologize and said she was quote “multitasking” with her supervisor [Anna Peters, “U.S. Marshal, Federal Judge Clash in Court, Again,” KELO-TV, 2022.02.21].

“Multitasking” belongs in mock-quotes, as we all know there is no such thing as “multitasking”—there’s only trying to do many things at once and doing them all badly.

Kinney’s $2,000 fine for distracted deputying in court is double the fine Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg had to pay for distracted driving that killed a man.

Argus Leader reporter Jonathan Ellis says Kornmann, age 85, “continues to make a compelling case for a mandatory retirement age in the federal judiciary.” I suggest the fine makes a compelling case for following courtroom rules:

“So-called security officers should not be reading papers or using electronic devices in courtrooms,” Kornmann said in the order. “They should have their heads up and their ears open. Thus, whether or not a deputy marshal may have been authorized to possess a ‘turned on’ cellphone in the courtroom, it is a serious matter for the deputy to be on the phone and not paying attention in the courtroom during a court hearing” [Elisa Sand, “U.S. Deputy Marshal Fined $2,000 for Using Cellphone in Aberdeen Federal Courtroom,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2022.02.22].

Once again, a U.S. Marshal shows up in Judge Kornmann’s courtroom and refuses to take her obligation to public safety seriously. If anyone needs to retire from working at the federal courthouse, it’s the deputy, not the judge.


  1. Mark Anderson 2022-02-23 07:35

    The lady doth protest to much, methinks.

  2. Bill 2022-02-23 08:19

    Don’t mess with Kornmann. He has ethics and is super smart.

  3. Loren 2022-02-23 08:23

    What???? The judge demanded she follow a set of rules? He is violating her “freedumb?” After all, we are S. Dakotans. We should be able to do what ever we want, whenever we want. /s

  4. Dana P 2022-02-23 08:28

    Disgusting. Taking their eye off of the ball is rule #1 no-no. This deputy should at minimum be reassigned if it is beneath her to do her basic job. Her basic job is to ensure the court, prisoners, court attendees, etc are safe. Having your nose buried in your cell phone doesn’t cut the mustard.

    And Ellis’ comment? Really? Good grief.

  5. Donald Pay 2022-02-23 09:05

    I can’t quite get my head around why Ellis linked the issue of mandatory retirement age in the federal judiciary with the decision on this issue. It’s a pretty cheap shot, really, and not very well thought out cheap shot to boot. I’d like the cops in these situations to be protecting the innocent people who have to come in and testify, are in the jury pool or work in the courtroom. I’m not sure how that happens if someone is using their cell phone and not paying attention to what’s going on in the courtroom.

    Maybe there should be a mandatory retirement age for federal judges, but most people think there should be minimum work requirements for court marshals. In this case, Kornmann showed he ain’t over the hill just yet.

    The thing is, Kornmann, a strong defender of the First Amendment, would be the first to uphold Ellis’ right to take such a cheap shot at his decision. Ellis should applaud that.

  6. Nick Nemec 2022-02-23 10:24

    Ellis is way off the mark here. A Federal judge demanding a US Deputy Marshal tasked with providing security in a Federal courtroom pay attention to what is going on in the courtroom is not a sign of senility. Deputy Marshal Kinney needs a dope slap and a written reprimand entered into her employment record.

  7. scott 2022-02-23 11:25

    The judge sets the rules and ALL must follow. Not difficult to understand and no one is exempt, including members of law enforcement. Another case of Law Enforcement thinking they are above the law/rules which ultimately has led to the declining respect for law enforcement officers.

    Judge Charles Kornmann has been calling out people for years, who are not the best examples of their profession. Good for him!! I how he keeps going.

  8. DR 2022-02-23 11:42

    Judge Kornmann is way past his prime and needs to go off into the sunset. He is petty judge with an axe to grind with this woman

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-23 17:24

    DR. do you question the authority of judges to enforce courtroom rules? Do you question the obligation of police officers, lawyers, journalists, litigants, and others in the courtroom to respect courtroom rules?

    Could we not just as easily conclude that the deputy has an axe to grind with Judge Kornmann and needs to go off into the sunset?

  10. Bob Newland 2022-02-23 17:43

    Well spoken, DR. About as well spoken as Trump’s “COVFEFE!” tweet.

  11. John 2022-02-23 19:19

    The US Marshal Service should re-assign twit Kinney to Nome, AK. Problem solved.

  12. Arlo Blundt 2022-02-23 19:23

    Well…thank goodness we can rely on Justice Kornman to uphold the pricip;es of law and order. When he does retire, he will be missed by those of us who enjoy watching an orderly court.

  13. grudznick 2022-02-23 19:41

    This fellow, Kornmann, is a noted derelict from way back in the day of McGovern. He is dafter than most of…er…um…fellows that mature.

  14. Porter Lansing 2022-02-23 19:52

    grudz-nichts calling a United States judge a derelict.

    Please, sir tell us what you’ve done in life that is half as successful as becoming a federal judge.

    Hmmmmm ….. grudz-nichts?

    We’re waiting.

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