Dallas County Changes Policy to Settle Turban Case

September 17, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The Associated Press


Dallas County has revised its security screening procedures to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Sikh man who was ordered out of a courtroom for refusing to remove his turban, a civil rights group said Wednesday.

The new policy revealed by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Texas calls for security personnel at all county buildings to allow people wearing religious head coverings or other religious garments to walk through a metal detector without removing the item. If the detector beeps, security personnel will use a hand-held detector or conduct a private search.

The policy was developed by the county based on models provided by the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund. It led to the dismissal last week of a case brought by the ACLU on behalf of Amardeep Singh.

According to the suit filed last year, Singh was ordered out of a Justice of the Peace courtroom under threat of arrest in June 2006. Singh had gone to defend himself from a traffic ticket when he was told by court personnel and Judge Albert Bernard Cercone to remove his "hat." When Singh tried to explain that wearing a turban is a required religious practice for members of the Sikh faith, the judge and court officials refused to hear his explanation.