Judges basically have ultimate control in their courtrooms. They have the power to determine a dress code and rule on violations of it. But when those rulings find an attorney in contempt and sentenced to jail time, things start to get a bit complicated.
Andrea Burton walked into a courtroom prepared to represent a client. But she was later the one being charged with contempt after Judge Milich asked her to take off a Black Lives Matter pin she was wearing five times and she refused to do so. Now, according to the Daily Beast, civil rights groups claim that Milich violated Burton’s first amendment rights and the attorney is appealing her five-day jail sentence.
“If you’re watching a person’s trial and family members have T-shirts about the victim, sometimes the judge may say that might bias jurors against the defendant,” Mike Brickner, a senior policy director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, explained to The Daily Beast. “There have also been cases where a judge has asked a prosecutor to remove an American flag pin, and he refused to do so. That was eventually litigated out, and the prosecutor was allowed to wear that American flag pin.”
Milich has been at the center of controversial decisions in the past, including coming out in June 2015 to say that he wouldn’t perform any marriages following the national legalization of same-sex marriage. Attorney Dave Betras told WFMJ that it would’ve been deemed unconstitutional to say he specifically wouldn’t perform same-sex marriages, so choosing to not perform any was the next best thing.
“There’s a difference between a flag, a pin from your church or the Eagles and having a pin that’s on a political issue,” Milich said.
The Youngstown, OH NAACP will be watching Burton’s appeal process, which they feel is only necessary because she was targeted for specifically supporting Black Lives Matter.
“If Attorney Burton had been wearing a Support Veterans Lives pen, she would not have been asked to take it off,” Youngstown NAACP President George Freeman Jr. said. “If attorney Burton had been wearing a Greek Festival pen, she would not have been asked to take it off.”
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