UPDATE: Through the good offices of a judge who is a certified friend of the blog, we communicated with the judge in question re: the bailiff who excludes children. As we suspected this was a good policy gone bad and the Judge was not aware of the nature of the entire speech. Needless to say the problem was resolved quickly and at least with this fine jurist, all is well.
If you see/hear a bailiff excluding people from a courtroom for no good reason (it goes without saying a Judge has the right to control her courtroom and can and should exclude any individual who cannot behave themselves, which of course is why most people are there to begin with. ) please email us. Judges understand the law (shocking as that may seem) but sometimes their bailiffs are a little too zealous.
All too frequently, when we walk the hallways of the REGJB just before 9am, we hear a bailiff give a speech to the people crowding in front of the courtroom. And usually the speech is a variety of the same tiresome (and ILLEGAL) spiel: "only defendants can enter the courtroom....or only defendants or family members of the defendant can enter the courtroom...." We heard one Judge's bailiff tell people that "no children can come into the courtroom."
All of that is ILLEGAL. First, as to the ban on children, children are people too. And many children are being dragged to court because the parent cannot afford childcare. So it is an OUTRAGE that some bailiff, with no authority of law, would ban children from courtroom in the United States of America. This isn't North Korea or Iran.
The law in Florida is simple: COURTROOMS ARE OPEN TO EVERYONE. Period.
There is one exception to that principle, and that is when one party files a motion to seal the courtroom. When that occurs, the media must be noticed and the court must hold a hearing, and even if the motion is granted, the courtroom is sealed for a limited time for a particular case.
We think the Judge whose bailiff is banning children is a great judge. We're sure her bailiff is a nice guy who does his job well. But this business of banning people from an American Courtroom in the United States of America has to stop. NOW. And banning children...? Really? That's the rep you want? We don't think so.
Now this business of telling people they cannot wear hats or sunglasses in a courtroom? We're not sure about that, but it's probably covered by the first amendment. We agree it's not respectful and we wouldn't counsel any client to do it. But we're pretty sure the bailiff and judge have no authority to enforce that rule either. Considering that the US Supreme Court has upheld the right of citizens to burn the flag and wear shirts that say "FU*& THE POLICE" and other such nonsense, if any person wanted to sit in court with sunglasses and a hat and got thrown out or arrested, we're pretty sure some civil rights group like the ACLU would win that lawsuit.
So stop banning people from court. Stop telling them what they can wear. Calm down, do your job, and we will all get along.
See You In Court.
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