Public defender refuses to remove 'Black Lives Matter' pin in co - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Public defender refuses to remove 'Black Lives Matter' pin in courtroom

Posted: Updated:
Clark County public defender Erika Ballou wears a Black Lives Matter pin in this image from Sept. 21, 2016. (Source: FOX5) Clark County public defender Erika Ballou wears a Black Lives Matter pin in this image from Sept. 21, 2016. (Source: FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

A Clark County public defender is not backing down after a judge asked her to remove a small Black Lives Matter pin from her blouse. This comes after the Las Vegas police union wrote a letter to the Clark County chief judge, asking him to ban all Black Lives Matter paraphernalia from courtrooms.

“I was shocked,” public defender Erika Ballou said.

Ballou never thought she'd be in this situation in a courtroom.

“I don't think that this is a political statement,” Ballou explained.

Video shows Ballou going back and forth with Judge Douglas Herndon after he asked her to remove a small Black Lives Matter pin. He told her she could either remove the pin or take herself off of the case. She refused to do either of those things.

“I feel like as the world stands now, black lives don't matter,” Ballou said.

She said she knows the judge has a right to make rules in his courtroom, but she thinks these rules should be universal. First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza agrees. He says if there’s going to be a rule it should be universal.

“Police officers often wear black bands to symbolize officers they’ve lost, and there are tons of symbols and political statements in those rooms daily,” Randazza said.

Ballou just wants the Black Lives Matter conversation to continue.

“Conversations need to keep happening so our country can keep going in the right direction,” Ballou said.

The police union did not return our calls or emails for a statement Wednesday. Clark County Courts responded with this statement:

“The Judges of the Eighth Judicial District Court are sworn public officials who are committed to upholding the Constitution and laws of the United States and Constitution and laws of the State of Nevada, including the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

"Each judge also has the obligation to ensure that his or her courtroom establishes an impartial forum where disputes are resolved through rule of law and the presentation of admissible evidence, free from extraneous influence.

"Ultimately, whether or not expressive conduct in the courtroom setting is constitutionally protected, or an infringement on the court’s duty to impartially preside is a matter that each judge must decide for himself or herself after carefully considering the facts and circumstances surrounding the expressive conduct.”

Ballou will be back in court with her client Thursday.

Copyright 2016 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. 

Powered by Frankly
Fox 5
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2017, KVVU Broadcasting Corporation, Las Vegas, NV and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.