In Providence, Rhode Island, a Black law student was walking into court when a white sheriff’s deputy mistook her for the defendant.
Brooklyn Crockton, a law student at Roger Williams University, shared a TikTok video of what transpired last Thursday when she attempted to enter a courtroom to defend a client as part of the school’s criminal defense clinic.
According to Boston.com, Crockton said that Rule 9 of the Rhode Island Supreme Court authorizes law students to represent criminal defendants in state District Court under the supervision of a licensed attorney on the RWU Law faculty.
Crockton claims she was ready to enter the courtroom with other attorneys at the Garrahy Judicial Complex in Providence to represent a client in a misdemeanor case when the sheriff’s officer placed “his body between me and the door” and ordered her to step aside.
The deputy turned to Crockton and asked for her name after allowing the other attorneys to enter the courtroom. When she answered, the deputy inquired.
“Are you sure you are in the right courtroom? Are you the defendant?”
Crockton stated her surprise and humiliation at the time and mentioned other Black lawyers who had similar experiences.
“I was very taken aback. I’m almost never rendered speechless,” Crockton said.
“But at that moment, I realized I would never forget this interaction for the rest of my life because, for no other reason that I could contrive, I was mistaken as the defendant in this line of attorneys.”
Crockton has since contacted staff at her law school, who are taking the incident seriously, according to ABC News.
“Before my video even went viral, I was approached by the administration and notified that they were taking this situation much more seriously and that behind the scenes, they were working with the judiciary to make sure that change was happening,” she said.