BLM Supporters Denied Access To City Court

On Tuesday, September 23, a policeman stationed at the public access door to city hall denied access to city court to members of Black Lives Matter attempting to attend the hearing for several of their members. Some supporters and family members of those being arraigned had earlier gained entrance to the hearing.

Who instructed the police officer to deny them access and why remains unknown.

A Serious Violation Of Our Justice System

This event is deeply disturbing. Access to our courts is a fundamental right. Only on the rarest of occasions and at the discretion of the presiding judge is the public denied access to a legal proceeding. Trials held in secret are traditionally known as “Star Chambers.”

The Star Chamber’s history goes back to to England in the middle ages. The “star” is a reference to the stars on the ceiling of the room in which it held its trials. According to the website The First Amendment Encyclopedia, King Charles I exploited the court to punish his critics. It was abolished in 1641 by the Long Parliament. This was an important advancement towards a fairer system of justice.

In Richmond Newspapers Inc. v. Virginia (1980), the United States Supreme Court cited the First Amendment to support the right of the public and members of the news media to attend criminal trials.

The transparency of our courts is fundamental to minimize the potential for the abuse of power.

I would ask the readers of this blog to consider how they would feel if they believed that the state was unfairly persecuting someone using the courts and they tried to support that person by attending their hearing only to be turned away.

Whatever criticisms I may have of the local BLM group, their denial of access to city court is an egregious abuse.

Commissioner Robin Dalton Responds

Today I received this press release from Commissioner Dalton:

In conversation with Commissioner Dalton should told me:

I consider the right of access to the courts to be fundamental to our system of justice.  It is my intention to rigorously investigate what happened that morning to determine who is culpable in the decision to deny access.  The determination as to who can attend a court hearing must rest with the courts.

This is not about Black Lives Matter.  It is not about left or right.  It is about protecting our justice system.

The people of this city deserve to know what happened and I am dedicated to providing them with answers.

Commissioner Robin Dalton

4 thoughts on “BLM Supporters Denied Access To City Court”

  1. I encourage Robin Dalton in her search for day light and justice. The Saratoga police department as all/most police departments need to be held accountable.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Police must be reigned-in, in this city, this country, and throughout the world. The militarization and the unaccountability of police is ubiquitous, regardless of the party controlling the levers of power. It may be too late to try to reset this clock.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Someone identifying themselves and Liz was unable to post a comment so I am doing it for her under my name:

    I tried to post a comment on your latest entry but kept getting a “duplicate post” error. Can you please let me know how to post the following: I was one of supporters denied entrance and it’s not the only thing that’s egregious. Robin Dalton has had DAYS to determine what occurred and who was responsible. The officer who barred us from not only entering the court room, but also made us leave the building, was told he was just following orders from his supervisor. Is it really that difficult to figure out what happened, especially when the court denied that it handed down such an order? No, it’s not difficult and I will be shocked if Robin ever gives a satisfactory answer. Shocked because I expect little to nothing in terms of transparency from her office. After all, admitting the details and truth behind what actually occurred can’t possibly be attributed to miscommunication. As you noted in this post, John, whatever the reason, it’s a violation of our constitutional rights. This should never have happened. Period. I’m horrified by the increasingly litigious and punitive measures taken by SSPD and those “serving” on behalf of the people of Saratoga.

    Liked by 3 people

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