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Black Attorney Told “He Wasn’t A Lawyer” Based on His Way of Dress Then Tased at Court
By Betti Halsell, Staff Writer
Published October 8, 2020

Attorney, Jaaye Person-Lynn (Courtesy Photo)

 

Bailiff tased and cuffed Person-Lynn in the middle of a verbal dispute.

When a lawyer enters the courtroom, they are supposed to be treated with respect.  There is a specific lane for attorneys to talk to the clerk, bailiff, and judge. Attorney, Jaaye Person-Lynn knows that protocol; he has been an attorney for 10 years, worked on approximately 250 cases, and his name and practice are held in high regard. However, earlier this month, none of his expertise mattered. It all came down to what he looked like, and because the bailiff did not see Jaaye as a lawyer, he did not treat him like one.

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Person-Lynn was looking to make adjustments and handle last-minute details on one of his upcoming cases. When he called to ask for the procedures, the San Bernardino Justice Center operator advised Person-Lynn to stop by the clerk’s office. According to Person-Lynn, he began to visualize his trip to the courts. Because he was not scheduled for a courtroom appearance, and only there to handle a standard administrative function with the clerk, he dressed casually.  Person-Lynn sported sneakers, red chino pants, and a white shirt with West African dashiki prints. He headed into the destination with a clear task in mind: go to the clerk’s office.

Person-Lynn shared that when he reached the clerk’s office, he was advised that his task required him to go into the courtroom. He inputted his client’s case information into the kiosk in order to be called by the clerk to address a legal matter for his client.  According to Person-Lynn, this is an important detail because he was using the kiosk option specialized for lawyers only, and gave explicit detail on what he was there for, as a presenting attorney.

At that point, the attorney window representative navigated Person-Lynn to the actual courtroom, Department S7. The reason Person-Lynn was initially there was because his client’s case conflicted with his schedule, and he needed to reschedule in order to make the appearance.

Person-Lynn entered the opened courtroom doors and made his way to the clerk’s desk, within the courtroom. Person-Lynn says the custody deputy, Paul Barrie asked him, “Do I know you?” Although off-put by the question, Person-Lynn obliged, responding with, “No, you don’t know me, but I’m here to talk to the clerk about one of my cases.”

According to Person-Lynn, the deputy looked him over and directed him to the gallery area of the courtroom, designated for the general public to view cases. Confused, attorney, Person-Lynn asked the deputy why was he being directed to go to the gallery instead of the working area of the courtroom? “The deputy said with confidence, ‘Because you’re not an attorney,’” said Person-Lynn.

Person-Lynn informed deputy Barrie that he was an attorney, and there to work on one of his assigned cases.  “After I told him I was an attorney, deputy Barrie directed me to bailiff’s desk.”  Person-Lynn says, as he approached the bailiff, Deputy Sutton, she said, “Sir, you see that bar, only attorneys can pass that bar.”  He says deputy Sutton did not allow the clerk representative to check his credentials.

Attorney, Jaaye Person-Lynn in casual wear with buddies, Mahari Baily, a Georgetown Law Graduate, and Cole Wiley, a Harvard Law Graduate.  (Courtesy Photo)

Again, attorney Person-Lynn outlined his identity and reached into his back pocket to retrieve his identification proving his practice as a lawyer.  Person Lynn says, at that point, deputy Barrie pushed him outside the bar area.  “I wasn’t expecting that, I had no idea,” Person-Lynn explained.  He says the energy shifts abruptly, but he decided not to retaliate to that initial push. Person-Lynn says he attempted to walk around the deputy Barrie who became physical with him with no cause to do so.

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“The custody deputy, intruding on my personal space, puts his hand on my chest.”  According to Person-Lynn, he brought his hands up to remove the unwelcomed physical interaction. The reaction to the  Barrie’s hand being removed from in his personal space is being characterized as Person-Lynn having “smacked” deputy Barrie’s hand away.

Now met with adversity, other bailiffs begin to engage. Person-Lynn says he was told if he does not have a case on the calendar, that he had to go to the clerk’s office. The attorney rephrased his initial statement to make it clear he has already been to the clerk’s office and he was instructed to come to the Bailiff’s office.

After the back and forth in conversation, Person-Lynn says bailiff Sutton restated that he could not approach the clerk. Attorney Person-Lynn inquisitively asked why?   “Her response was ‘that’s the rule of the court,'” Person-Lynn said, as they referenced a sign in the room that read, “Please Don’t Approach the Clerk, Check in with the Bailiff.”  Person-Lynn explained that the sign is for defendants, not attorneys.

Knowing the rules, attorney Person-Lynn explained the differences between the standard protocol of approaching the clerk for the defendant and the lawyer. Surrendering, Person-Lynn, explained the severity of needing to talk to the clerk, requesting that the message that he needs to speak with the clerk gets passed on through the Bailiff.

Exhausted from the unexpected twists and turns of this ordeal, attorney, Person-Lynn said, “​I’m an attorney. I’m an officer of the court.”  But when deputy Sutton’s response seemed dismissive, he told her he was there to talk to the clerk.

Person-Lynn was interrupted by Sutton and was instructed to immediately “Step out.”

Seeing no malice in his intentions, Person-Lynn asked, why?  That banter led to Person-Lynn being pushed again. Person-Lynn responded to the situation by saying, “Y’all are going to have a problem, I guarantee you that.”

Person-Lynn says he walked out, but was still concerned about the incomplete task of talking to the clerk about his assigned case. One of the bailiffs acknowledges the case for the first time, but has the perception that Person-Lynn is part of the case as the defendant. Person-Lynn reinstates that it is his client’s case. For the first time, the bailiff asks for the case number.

Person-Lynn says the environment changes when the information that he has stated from the beginning of his visit is finally visible to all involved. In the shift of the room, Person-Lynn looks over to the bailiff and exchanged words to let him know, that the bailiff has made a grave mistake, specifically pointing out the time that the bailiff made physical contact with Person-Lynn.  He made note of the bailiff’s name and said, “I’m coming after you, I promise you, I’m coming after you with everything I have and everything I learned in law school!”

Before more words were exchanged, Person-Lynn was shot with a taser at a 6-foot range. One dart went into his phone and the other dart clung to the fabric of his shirt. After that, he was rushed with cuffs and taken in as someone who himself, needs to be defended.

Person-Lynn was tried and convicted with the following charge: “The defendant struck Deputy Barrie’s hand away from his chest when Deputy Barrie was attempting to hold the defendant from coming back into the area in front of the bar.”

There were nine total charges that outlined Person-Lynn as an “obstructor,” painting a picture of aggression and rebellion. These facts were printed out and given to the jury to deliberate on while processing both sides of the story.

There was a lot of back and forth, and the focus was placed on physical contact. However, Person-Lynn says there is a missing perspective of a simple court protocol. If the initial custody deputy followed his training to check the system before engaging in informal conversation, they would have seen the plan that Person-Lynn came in with, and there would be no need for physical contact.

This story has been updated.  10-8-2020

 

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