ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Three Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputies were injured and an assistant public defender was hospitalized for evaluation after what investigators call a “disruption” in a Rochester courtroom Friday.
According to the MCSO, the assistant public defender was denied access to an area in Rochester City Court around 10:15 a.m. because of “safety concerns with a disruptive inmate.”
Investigators say a judge told the assistant public defender she was not allowed to enter the restricted area. They say she became “disruptive,” and was then asked by the judge and by deputies to leave the courtroom.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office claims “an altercation ensued” between the assistant public defender and deputies as deputies escorted her out of the courtroom.
Three deputies were treated for minor injuries. The assistant public defender was evaluated at Strong Memorial Hospital for wrist pain.
“It was determined there are no signs of a fracture,” MCSO officials said.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said a criminal investigation into the incident is ongoing.
On Saturday, November 6, the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office issued the following statement:
“We are aware that there was a physical altercation between our attorney and a court deputy leading to our attorney suffering a serious injury to her wrist. We want to express our full support for our attorney. We do not believe the use of force was necessary under the circumstances presented, and we remain very concerned at the level of disproportionate force used by the deputies against a member of this office.”
In addition, The Rochester Black Bar Association — a local organization that supports attorneys and law students of color — responded with it’s own statement, which in part said:
“The RBBA is shocked and dismayed by the decision to use such extraordinary force against a member of the bar. The use of force on any attorney is to be highly scrutinized. We are calling for a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident.”
Officials from the Monroe County Bar Association said Friday the incident was referred tot he Unified Court System Inspector General for review. In a statement, they said:
“On November 5, the Monroe County Bar Association learned of an incident involving the use of force by Monroe County Sheriff deputies on a female attorney of color at the Monroe County Hall of Justice. We do not have full information about the incident and what precipitated this use of force.
That said, the MCBA is concerned about the use of force in the Hall of Justice against anyone, let alone an attorney. The public has a right to know whether the use of force was necessary and proportional considering the facts and circumstances known at the time. We are pleased to learn that on Monday the matter was referred to the Unified Court System’s Inspector General for review.”
A statement from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Friday said criminal charges may be filed, pending the results of the review and investigation:
“The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office continues to conduct a thorough investigation into an incident involving an attorney appearing in Rochester City Court, occurring on Friday, November 5, 2021. As part of our ongoing investigation into this matter, we will continue to respect the Office of Court Administration’s process and procedures as we complete our investigation. As is consistent with our investigations, after the process is complete, if it is determined MCSO developed probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, criminal charges may be filed.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has secured the courts, the judiciary, as well as attorneys practicing in the courts and the public of Monroe County since its inception.
While this incident is unfortunate, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and our deputies remain committed to performing our duties to the best of our ability in ensuring the safety and security of everyone in our courts.”
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.