Judge Scolded for Removing Muslim Woman from Court

August 14, 2006

Source: The News Tribune


On August 14, 2006 The News Tribune reported, "The Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct has admonished two local judges, one for leading a football cheer before sentencing a man for manslaughter and one for forcing a Muslim woman out of the courtroom when she wouldn’t take off her head scarf. Superior Court judge Beverly Grant, who led the cheer, and Tacoma Municipal Court judge David Ladenburg, who removed the Muslim woman, agreed with the commission and promised not to err again. An admonishment, written advice from the state commission overseeing judges’ behavior, is the lowest form of punishment the commission can give... With Ladenburg, 'as soon as his error was pointed out, he apologized and changed his behavior,' she said... In Ladenburg’s case, the commission received a complaint that he required a Muslim woman Jan. 25 to either remove the head scarf she wore for religious reasons or leave the courtroom. After an investigation, the commission said Ladenburg had created an appearance of bias or prejudice against the woman. After the woman left, the judge explained in open court that he had 'invited many people in the past to present me some evidence' about whether the Muslim religion forbade the removal of head coverings in court and had concluded that there was no such prohibition. In May, Ladenburg admitted to the commission that he had a policy that everyone in his court must remove their head coverings unless they could present evidence that removing them was prohibited for religious or medical reasons. He acknowledged that he had not fully considered that his policy might infringe upon their religious rights."