The first two times Abbey Kane got called for jury duty she was taking classes full-time at Anne Arundel Community College and working part-time as a receptionist. She sent her letter of explanation and her class schedule to Anne Arundel Circuit Court and thought she was off the hook.
Kane, 22, was directed to follow the same procedure a third time — a few years later — but after a series of miscommunications, she learned that there was a warrant out for her arrest due to failure to appear for jury duty. When she arrived at the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to turn herself in and correct her mistake, she was handcuffed, shackled and put in a cell as she waited to go before a judge.
“I would not want this to happen to other people at all, especially when they do everything right,” Kane said. “It was very embarrassing.”
What happened to Kane is the inspiration for a bill from State Sen. Bryan Simonaire, R-Pasadena, that would require the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission to develop written policies for law enforcement agencies across the state on the appropriate use of handcuffs when taking a person into custody on a body attachment warrant — typically used when a person fails to appear in court.
Simonaire hopes this will prompt law enforcement to reevaluate how they treat individuals who turn themselves in for nonviolent offenses.
Although this wouldn’t do anything to help Abbey Kane, whose body attachment warrant has since been dismissed, she hopes lawmakers will consider the bill.
She said she also hopes others who are trying to do the right thing and resolve non-violent offenses would be treated with more dignity and humanity. Without a criminal record, she said she doesn’t understand why the restraints were necessary.
“We were devastated,” said mother Lisa Kane, who testified before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Thursday in support of the bill. “She had no criminal record.”
Kane said she was overcome with anxiety and fear upon learning that there was a warrant out for her arrest.
“I have never had that happen — I don’t have a record,” she said. “I always try to follow the rules.”
Kane immediately told her mother, who she said dropped everything to drive her down to Annapolis from their home in Glen Burnie.
Kane didn’t know what to expect upon arriving at the courthouse but was resolved to stay calm and figure it out. They arrived at Anne Arundel Circuit Court within an hour of receiving the phone call, Kane said.
She checked in with a receptionist at the courthouse and was confused when a Sheriff’s deputy emerged with handcuffs. He asked her to remove all her jewelry and told her that she would have to be restrained and held in a cell while she waited to go before a judge.
The Anne Arundel County Sheriff’s Department could not be reached Tuesday about typical procedures in this situation.
“It all happened so fast — it wasn’t until I was in the cell that I realized what was happening,” Kane said. “I thought I did everything right.”
Kane sat crying, handcuffed and shackled, in the cell for about an hour while her mother waited.
Maryland Policy & Politics
At the hearing, Sen. Shelly Hettleman, D-Baltimore County, said she thought it was crazy that someone can get a body attachment for missing jury duty.
“As a parent, to kids of a similar age, I can’t even imagine what that must have been like to watch your daughter go through that,” Hettleman said. “So I totally empathize and maybe we can figure something out.”
Kane said Judge Pamela K. Alban agreed to recall the body attachment and let her go home with her mother as long as she showed up at 9 a.m. the next day for jury selection. If not, Kane said she was told she’d be going to jail.
Kane showed up the next morning, and the body attachment was dismissed six days later, according to online court records.