No. That’s not a picture of me. But it’s a typical scene playing throughout our state court on a daily basis. Defendants and defense attorneys are required to pass through a court security screening device, emptying pockets, lifting jackets to show belt buckles and answering follow up questions concerning “what’s in dem dare pockets?”
Well, if you’ve been charged with a crime… I can understand why you’re going to get searched. Safety first! But as a criminal DEFENSE ATTORNEY, frankly, I am offended by having to be subject to these types of searches while police officers and prosecutors can just mosey on through without having to pass through the metal detector. In fact, it’s not just cops and DAs who get the free pass as it includes all of the court personnel and office personnel at the DA’s office. Last time I checked, I was a sworn officer of the court. I have a HIGHER ethical obligation than a police officer and an equal ethical obligation with the DA.
So what makes these people LESS LIKELY to go apeshit and bring a gun into the court? Is it by virtue of their office or position? What special scrutiny do they go through that I, as a defense attorney, haven’t been through? If I’m convicted of a crime, I have to report that to the Board of Overseers of the Bar. They’re in charge of determining who is and who is not fit to practice law. The scrutiny that we as defense attorneys go through is at least equal to that of cops and the DA and DEFINITELY a greater deal of scrutiny than court personnel and DA officer personnel.
As a defense attorney, I’m in front of the court on a daily basis. I’m brought back into chambers with the judge. I socialize and work with (and against) the prosectors. What makes me such a threat that I should go through this screening process?
Now, just so y’all don’t think I’m being a whiney baby, I’d be fine with a rule that required EVERYONE to go through the court security process. That would include, defendants, attorneys, prosecutors, cops and court personnel. EVERYONE. Otherwise, it would appear that not only is there clear favoritism as to how this rule is applied but it stands as commentary on the trustworthiness of the defense bar. And I am not ok with that silent commentary.
So I say to you, the esteemed judiciary, who oversees the funding and training of our court security here in Maine… get with the program and enforce rules that make sense. Or at least apply the rules equally to all to avoid the obvious appearance of favoritism.
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