The U.S. Marshal’s Service blocked access to the U.S. District Courthouse in Brattleboro today, where Herald reporter Susan Smallheer was attempting to cover the latest Vermont Yankee hearing. The hearing itself was closed but Susan wanted to wait outside the courtroom to ensure she didn’t miss anybody on the way out.
Saying that the press (Smallheer and reporters from the Brattleboro Reformer and VPR) had “accosted” the attorneys for Entergy at the last hearing, Deputy Marshal Terry Martin refused to allow Smallheer into a public area of the courthouse. I had no idea NYC lawyers were so sensitive.
The deputy did allow Susan to go directly to the court clerk’s office and come right back out, but he would not let her use public waiting rooms, hallways or other areas. This despite the fact that the courthouse is a public building.
Martin refused to say who issued the order or on what authority and refused to let Smallheer speak with the person who made the decision. I spoke with a “Shin” (no first name or rank given) in the US Marshal’s office in Burlington, who said he would call the person in charge in Brattleboro but nothing more. He later told a reporter from The Commons that “they wanted to keep the hallways clear.” I guess Susan must have constituted a crowd.
It’s yet another reminder that damned near anybody in a uniform and a job title can do damned near anything they want in this country these days, and the rest of us are supposed to say nothing and keep shuffling along, and screw the Constitution.
Susan eventually interviewed, “accosted” if you will, the lawyers outside the public courthouse following the hearing.