July 23, 2016

Attorney Andrea Burton is free on appeal, but should she lose the appeal, she'll have to spend the five days in jail. I suppose the takeaway from this is that you can be an activist or a lawyer, but you can't really be both at once in the courtroom.

Source: WKBN (Youngstown, Ohio)

An attorney was removed from court and taken into custody after a judge declared her in contempt for refusing to take off a Black Lives Matter pin.

Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Robert Milich said Attorney Andrea Burton was in contempt of court for refusing to remove the pin in his courtroom as instructed. Burton was sentenced to five days in jail, but she has been released on a stay while an appeal is underway.

Burton will stay out of jail during the appeals process as long as she obeys Milich’s order not to wear items that make a political statement in court. If she loses her appeal, she will have to serve the five days in jail.

Milich said his opinions have nothing to do with his decision.

“A judge doesn’t support either side,” he said. “A judge is objective and tries to make sure everyone has an opportunity to have a fair hearing, and it was a situation where it was just in violation of the law,” he said.

For her part, Atty. Andrea Burton seems to fully grasp the consequences of her actions.

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.

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