Youngstown attorney arrested for wearing 'Black Lives Matter' button in court
A Youngstown attorney says she intends to appeal a decision by a judge to hold her in contempt for refusing to remove a “Black Lives Matter” lapel button while in his courtroom.
It's a free speech, tug of war, that played out in a Youngstown courtroom Friday morning when a black attorney refused to remove a 'Black Lives Matter' button.
The handcuffs are now off and Attorney Andrea Burton plans to appeal her 5-day jail sentence for refusing to remove a 'Black Lives Matter' button in Youngstown Municipal Court.
Judge Robert Milich reportedly gave her several chances to comply, but then ordered that Burton be held in contempt of court, handcuffed and taken to jail.
"He indicated to me he didn't know if I was trying to seek attention from the news or whatever the case was, but that legally I wasn't allowed to wear it and I deferred and said that I'm respecting my First Amendment right. That I'm not neutral in injustice, and to remain neutral becomes an accomplice to oppression, Attorney Burton said.
The Youngstown woman's attorneys asked that the Judge stay her sentence so that she could appeal, and he eventually sent out an order allowing her to be released pending an Appeals Court decision.
But Burton's release comes with the following conditions: She will have to comply with the dress code of the Youngstown Municipal Court. Burton also can not wear or exhibit a 'Black Lives Matter' or any other political badge or pin in Youngstown Municipal Court or the courtroom halls.
"It's an act of civil disobedience I understand that. I'm not anti-police I work with law enforcement and I hold them in the highest regard, and just to say for the record I do believe all lives matter. But at this point they don't all matter equally, and that's a problem in the justice system," Burton said.
Judge Milich would not do an interview because the case is headed to the Appeals Court. However, he does say he can't let someone demonstrate a viewpoint in a court that is supposed to be fair and impartial.
21 News also found case law from the Supreme Court that says Judges do have the right to ban political expressions from the courtroom.
Attorney Burton argues her First Amendment right overides that.
The local NAACP has contacted the legal division of the national NAACP, and they say they will monitor this case very closely, because Attorney Burton's civil rights may have been violated.