Lawyer who refused to remove Black Lives Matter pin appeals 5-day sentence

An attorney in Ohio is fighting a judge's ruling that sent her to jail for refusing to remove her Black Lives Matter pin in court.

If Andrea Burton loses her appeal, she'll need to serve the 5-day sentence, WKBN reported Friday.

Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Robert Milich said he ordered Burton to take off the pin last week because the law allows judges to limit symbolic political expression in court, even if it doesn't interrupt the proceedings.

"There’s a difference between a flag, a pin from your church or the Eagles and having a pin that’s on a political issue," Milich told the news station.

"He indicated to me he didn't know if I was trying to seek attention from the news or whatever the case was, but that legally I wasn't allowed to wear it and I deferred and said that I'm respecting my First Amendment right," Burton told WFMJ. The judge reportedly held her in contempt of court after giving her several opportunities to take off the pin.

The Youngstown branch of the NAACP argued that Burton's civil rights may have been violated.

"Unless she violated the law - there does not seem to be a valid reason for her to be JAILED," the branch's president, George Freeman, Jr., wrote.

"A judge doesn’t support either side," Milich said. "A judge is objective and tries to make sure everyone has an opportunity to have a fair hearing, and it was a situation where it was just in violation of the law."

Mike Brickner, senior policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, told WKBN that in many cases, judges can order people in the courtroom to remove clothing with messages in order to preserve a defendant's right to a fair trial.

"It's an act of civil disobedience, I understand that. I'm not anti-police, I work with law enforcement and I hold them in the highest regard, and just to say for the record, I do believe all lives matter. But at this point they don't all matter equally," Burton added.

Youngstown is approximately 70 miles southeast of Cleveland.