An Ohio lawyer who was sentenced to five days in jail for wearing a “Black Lives Matter” button has filed a lawsuit against the sentencing judge.
Andrea Burton, 30, said that Municipal Court Judge Robert Milich violated her First Amendment right to free speech and her 14th Amendment right to due process and equal protection under by ordering her to remove the button, the Youngstown Vindicator reported.
Milich ordered her to remove the button on July 22, citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision that banned political buttons in courtrooms, but she refused.
After the court recessed, the judge again asked Burton to take the button off, but again, she declined. In response Milich ordered her jailed on contempt charges.
After she was taken into custody the judge stayed the order because Burton finally agreed to remove the button and not wear it in court while the decision was appealed.
“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,” Burton told WFMJ.
“That I’m not neutral in injustice, and to remain neutral becomes an accomplice to oppression,” she said.
Milich said that the Black Lives Matter group or his feelings towards it had nothing to do with his decision.
“A judge doesn’t support either side,” he told WKBN. “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.
“There’s a difference between a flag, a pin from your church or the Eagles and have a pin that’s on a political issue.”
Burton is also suing the city of Youngstown and Milich’s colleague Judge Elizabeth Kobly.
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