Chief Judge John P. Morrissey has ordered all district court employees to avoid wearing any articles of clothing that feature the "thin blue line" logo out of concern that displaying such items could be "an issue of perceived bias."
What are the details?
According to a Friday report from the Washington Post, court staffers are prohibited from wearing or using "thin blue line" masks, clothing, and any other paraphernalia.
Morrissey sent a memo to employees this week with the new directive. The memo was in direct response to a May 4 letter from Maryland Public Defender Paul DeWolfe, who complained that personal articles featuring the logo created a "fair trial issue" in courtrooms across the state.
In his letter, DeWolfe wrote, "The 'thin blue line' is commonly depicted as a black and white rendition of the American flag with a blue stripe running just under the stars, with the 'thin blue line' itself representing the belief that the police are the only thing that stands between order and chaos."
"It 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," DeWolfe added.
He concluded, "To allow these masks to be worn by courtroom staff during hearings and trials of our clients, a large swath of them black, denies them the appearance that their hearing is being conducted fairly and without bias."
Morrissey agreed, according to the Baltimore Sun, and wrote in response that wearing logos "which may be perceived as showing bias of favoritism to a particular group of people could undermine the District Court's mission."
“The Judiciary must maintain itself as an unbiased and independent branch of Maryland state government," he added.
The new policy went into immediate effect.