Deputy U.S. marshals this morning scrambled to track down and detain a man who confronted a courtroom deputy in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit during a recess in oral argument.
The man first entered Courtroom No. 31, on the fifth floor, about 9:50 a.m. and sat alone in the gallery behind the appellants. His scruffy appearance and big winter coat drew stares from some observers in the courtroom. Chief Judge David Sentelle, sitting with Judges Judith Rogers and Janice Rogers Brown, were hearing argument in a case about a negligence claim against the Coast Guard.
After the case was submitted, Sentelle called for a recess about 10 a.m. The man got up, went into the well where the lawyers sit, and walked directly to the courtroom deputy at her desk. The man was standing about five feet from the deputy. The conversation was inaudible from the gallery. The judges were not in the room.
There were no deputy U.S. marshals in the courtroom at the time of the incident. The public is restricted from entering the area where the attorneys sit for argument.
It was not immediately known whether the man made any demands. He walked away after about 30 seconds and rode an elevator to the ground floor. The clerk alerted staff. Deputy U.S. marshals converged outside the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse and found the man, who was detained and questioned.