A black legal professional filed a grievance with a Maryland sheriff’s office after he says a deputy racially profiled him through thinking whether he changed into a lawyer and accusing him of being a suspect.
Rashad James, an lawyer for Maryland Legal Aid, turned into in Harford County District Court earlier this month representing a client who changed into not present at an expungement listening to when a sheriff’s deputy allegedly detained him, the complaint says.
James instructed newshounds Tuesday that the incident become “surreal,” and that the deputy essentially asked him to prove that he become a legal professional. He said it was the primary time he had represented a purchaser at the courthouse.
“If Mr. James were white, this will now not have occurred. He could be in a position to walk out of that court docket without any question approximately who he become and who he turned into representing,” James’ lawyer Chelsea J. Crawford stated at the information convention.
James and his legal professionals called the incident a case of “racial discrimination” and are now soliciting for a full investigation by means of the sheriff’s workplace. They characterized the incident as “lawyering at the same time as black” – the modern-day in a string of incidents in which black Americans going about their lives have police referred to as on them or are puzzled by using government.
Asked why they thought the incident came about due to race, attorney Andrew D. Freeman stated, “we just see no other rationalization.”
The Harford County Sheriff’s Office obtained the grievance in advance this week and assigned it to the Office of Professional Standards “for an entire and thorough investigation,” sheriff Jeffrey R. Gahler stated in an announcement.
“If the one’s claims are founded and violations of organization policy are found out, we are able to take on the spot and suitable administrative motion,” Gahler said.
The alleged incident passed off March 6 after James turned into success in the expungement hearing on behalf of his patron, according to the grievance. James, an lively member of the Maryland Bar, says the choose mentioned him as his client’s counsel in court.
However, James becomes now not capable of attaining his customer, who’s also black, and did no longer understand police had a warrant for his patron’s arrest, the grievance says.
As James became leaving, the deputy addressed James with his consumer’s call and asked to speak with him, the criticism alleges. James corrected the officer however become asked to show his ID, the complaint says.
That’s while James changed into introduced to an interview room inside the courthouse and asked whether he had a commercial enterprise card or Maryland Bar ID card, neither of which a legal professional is needed to carry and James did no longer have at the time, the criticism says.
The deputy becomes “among Mr. James and the door; a bailiff joined them and stood within the doorway. Mr. James did now not experience free to depart,” the complaint says.
The officer then made calls, and James became free to leave some 10 to fifteen mins after the incident began, according to the criticism.
“He was accused of now not being an legal professional after he has worked so difficult in regulation faculty and with Maryland Legal Aid to be an upstanding attorney in our bar,” Crawford said.
“Maryland Legal Aid is incensed at the remedy of our colleague,” the non-profit law company said in an assertion. “We stand behind Rashad today, and behind others who have skilled racial profiling and discrimination – a chance to their fundamental human and civil rights – with the objective to save you an incident like this from ever taking place again.”
James told newshounds he’s by no means heard of a state of affairs like this going on to a colleague or another lawyer.
“The facts of the state of affairs communicate for themselves,” James said.
Crawford referred to as the lengths to which the officer went “immoderate and discriminatory in nature.”
“This is some other example or some other example of the suspicion and second-guessing that attaches to black guys especially,” she added.