Judge: Handcuffing of juror ‘unfortunate’ but appropriate

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON — The handcuffing of a man who showed up for jury duty at Superior Court of the District of Columbia was “an unfortunate incident,” but appropriate, according to Chief Judge Lee Satterfield.

Bernard Arons was handcuffed in January after the radio he was carrying mimicked an improvised explosive device as it was screened by court personnel.

“They cleared the area, [and] wouldn’t let anyone use cellphones, or two-way communications,” Arons says. “They feared that the radio was going to be detonated.”

Arons says he was surrounded by three or four security guards, and handcuffed behind his back.

In a letter to Arons — obtained by WTOP — Satterfield says protocols were followed.

“Until a suspicious item is cleared, and it has been determined that the person is not wanted or has a criminal record that may be associated with a terrorist act, the person is restrained for the safety of the officers, the person’s safety and the safety of members of the public.”

“This was an unfortunate incident as in hindsight it was clear that you were not and are not a threat,” Satterfield wrote. “However, after a thorough review of the investigation, given what the Court Security Officers saw on the X-Ray machine, I have concluded that they acted appropriately.”

Satterfield’s letter says Arons was “treated with dignity and respect.”

“They want to encourage people to do their civic duty,” Arons tells WTOP. “I know the security of the courthouse is important. It seems they could better balance the security needs with peoples’ individual right.”

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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