Those who walk into any Georgia
courtroom will be allowed to wear head coverings, such as scarf worn
by Muslim women. The new policy was adopted Wednesday at a meeting
of the Judicial Council of Georgia, the policy-making body for
Georgia courts, says the reports that appeared in US media today.
The policy is designed to balance a
court’s legitimate security concerns with a person’s right to
practice his or her faith in a public place. Under the new policy,
if a security officer wanted to conduct a search, the person would
have the option of having the inspection performed in a private area
by an officer of the same gender, ajc.com reports quoting the press
release issued yesterday.
According to the report, the measure
stems from the December 2008 arrest of Lisa Valentine after she
refused to remove her hijab, the head scarf worn by Muslim women.
She said to do so would violate her faith. But Judge Keith Rollins
of the Douglasville Municipal Court found her in contempt of court
and ordered her to serve 10 days in jail.
The incident prompted a formal
complaint from the U.S. Department of Justice. The Anti-Defamation
League, Council on American-Islamic Relations and American Civil
Liberties Union also lodged complaints.
On June 12th, Ms. Valentine testified
before the Supreme Court of Georgia Committee on Access and Fairness
in the Courts.
“If this had been a nun, no one would
have required her to remove her habit,” said Chief Justice Carol
Hunstein, who chairs the Judicial Council. “I think this is a good
rule, and I think it’s clear.”
“Head coverings are prohibited from
the courtroom except in cases where the covering is worn for medical
or religious reasons. To the extent security requires a search of a
person wearing a head covering for medical or religious reasons, the
individual has the option of having the inspection performed by a
same-sex officer in a private area. The individual is allowed to put
his or her own head, covering on back after the inspection is
complete”, the website reported quoting specifically from the