It was Jury Duty: Celebrity Edition in Baltimore Circuit Court on Tuesday.
Phelps' presence created such a buzz that other prospective jurors and employees throughout the courthouse started streaming in to take his picture, according to Maj. Sam Cogen of the sheriff's office.
“People were using their cell phones [to take pictures], bothering him — including police,” Cogen said. “We had to intervene and do a general announcement reminding people about conduct in the courthouse.”
Photographs aren't allowed anywhere in the courthouse without approval from the administrative judge, per policy. Phelps, who the previous evening had been in Manhattan to accept the athlete of the year award at USA Swimming’s Golden Goggles event, was moved to the “quiet room,” Cogen said.
Phelps had headphones on and largely kept to himself, according to Goldman, of Ace of Cakes fame. Goldman himself passed the time reading a book and posting messages to Twitter, including his frustration with the NFL over Ravens safety Ed Reed’s suspension and his encounter with a hot dog vendor outside the courthouse.
Goldman said he chatted up some fans, including showing pictures of the cakes his newly-opened Los Angeles location is working on. “They said, ‘Don’t leave Baltimore, and I said, I’m not!” Goldman said. “It was fun.”
Celebrities aren’t exempt from jury duty, according to Angelita Plemmer, a spokeswoman for the judiciary. “It’s their civic duty to serve, just like anyone else,” Plemmer said. “For members of the public, it might be a surprise to see someone that’s famous, but as far as court personnel, it’s business as usual.
Goldman said he didn’t get selected for a jury; he didn’t think anybody did Tuesday. A representative for Phelps could not be reached for comment.
The courts system has worked over the years to improve the efficiency of the jury duty system, and Goldman came away a fan: He’s agreed to cut a public service announcement.
“It’ll be something like, ‘Hey, you’re fortunate enough to live in the greatest city in America, go do your duty,’” Goldman said.
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