A Harnett County judge, in North Carolina, sentenced a man for not wearing a face mask while he was serving jury duty.
Gregory Hahn (47) was arrested for contempt of court. He refused to wear a mask in Judge Charles Gilchrist’s courtroom. Gilchrist is the only county judge to have enacted a mask mandate.
Hahn was summoned to jury duty on Monday. He attended orientation along with 98 others. Hahn claims that he was not informed that jurors would be required to wear masks before he showed up for orientation on Monday.
Hahn stated that signs indicated no masks were needed. “We all walked into.”
Renee Whittenton, Superior Court clerk, stated that everyone in Gilchrist’s courtroom must wear a mask and that jurors were informed of this requirement at check-in.
Whittenton stated that while you can enter any district courtroom with no mask, you can also go into the superior courtroom without one and the [district attorneys’] office without one, but Judge Gilchrist has a mandate that you wear a mask.” Whittenton said to WRAL.
According to the clerk, any juror without one would be provided with one.
Hahn stated that potential jurors weren’t informed about the requirements for masks. His summons did not contain any notice. There is no signage at the courthouse that indicates masks are required.
Hahn stated, “I said, I’m not going to wear a mask,”. He said, “I understand that you don’t want to wear a mask,” and I replied, “That is correct sir,” and he said, “Why?”
Hahn stated that the judge again asked him if he would not wear a mask inside the courtroom. Gilchrist confirmed that he was right.
Hahn said to WRAL that Gilchrist had stated that he was going to Harnett County jail for 24 hours.
Hahn was taken to jail without bond for contempt of Court after being handcuffed and booked.
Hahn stated, “I never imagined this could happen in our country.”
WRAL reported that Harnett and Lee Counties issued a combined order on March 10, 2022, which allowed the presiding judge of each courtroom to decide at their discretion whether masks were required. Masks are not required in hallways or foyers, bathrooms, meeting rooms, or other areas of the courthouse.
Hahn stated that he had asked the judge for an excuse since it was only one day in jail.
He recalled Gilchrist’s words to him: “I could, I’m not going.”
Hahn, a single dad, asked if he could call home. Hahn stated that the judge declined.
Hahn stated, “I was dumbfounded.” “I felt like I was being bullied.”
WRAL was told by him that the 24 hours he spent in prison were the most difficult of his life. He also accused the judge of inviting his personal beliefs into the courtroom.
Hahn stated, “I am in jail for fulfilling my civic duty and not doing any other thing.” “It’s mind-boggling.”
He said that the judge had acted hypocritically, and told WRAL that he was considering filing a suit.
Hahn said to WRAL, “The irony in this whole thing was that the judge was speaking to me without a face mask.”