Md. Trial Restrictions Bring Deaf Advocacy Action

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — A trial in Ellicott City is prompting the National Association of the Deaf to develop guidelines for courtroom restrictions on spectator use of American Sign Language.

Chief Executive Howard Rosenblum says such restrictions should apply to all spectators, not a specific subset.

RELATED: Trial Starting in Maryland School for the Deaf Abuse Case

The action springs from Howard County Circuit Judge William Tucker’s initial prohibition on spectator use of sign language and facial expressions at the child molestation trial of a former Maryland School for the Deaf employee. The defendant and all seven alleged victims are deaf. The trial entered its seventh day Tuesday.

Tucker sought to prevent improper communication between spectators and witnesses on the stand. He has since revised the order to also prohibit talking.

The deaf advocacy group says it’s developing the guidelines for the American Bar Association.

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