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Judge Bans All Court Staff From Wearing Thin Blue Line Items

Annapolis, MD – All Maryland district court employees have been banned from wearing Thin Blue Line imagery amid concerns the pro-police symbol could create “an issue of perceived bias.”

Chief Judge John Morrissey sent out an email to district court staff statewide on Wednesday, ordering them to immediately stop wearing Thin Blue Line masks, apparel or other such clothing, the Associated Press reported.

The mandate does not apply to courthouse visitors, but does apply to judges, staff, clerks, constables, commissioners, and bailiffs working in each of the state’s 34 district courts, according to the Associated Press.

“The Judiciary must maintain itself as an unbiased and independent branch of Maryland state government,” Morrissey’s email read, according to The Hill.

“Employees of the District Court wearing any clothing item or apparel which promotes or displays a logo, sticker, pin, patch, slogan, or sign which may be perceived as showing bias or favoritism to a particular group of people could undermine the District Court’s mission of fair, efficient, and effective justice for all and call into question the Judiciary’s obligation to remain impartial and unbiased,” the chief judge reasoned.

Morrissey issued the directive at the behest of a public defender who brought the issue up in a letter to various judges on Tuesday, The Hill reported.

“[The Thin Blue Line] has been adopted by the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ movement, which launched in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, and has been associated at times with white supremacist groups,” Maryland Public Defender Paul DeWolfe claimed in the letter. “The wearing of this mask politicizes a space that is, at its core, supposed to be the very essence of fairness and impartiality.”

“To allow these masks to be worn by courtroom staff during the hearings and trials of our clients, a large swath of them Black, denies to them the appearance that their hearing is being conducted fairly and without bias,” DeWolfe declared.

Maryland Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President Clyde Boatwright said that if there is going to be a ban on the Thin Blue Line in district courtrooms, all other symbols should also be prohibited.

“We certainly understand what the judge is trying to accomplish here,” Boatwright told the Associated Press. “But the concern we would have is, is this type of restriction for all advocacy groups?”

Thin Blue Line masks have not been banned in Maryland Circuit Courts, a judiciary spokesperson said.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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