District court policy that banned pens and pencils under fire from Detroit City Council members

It's been more than a year since the 36th District Court banned pens and pencils. Now Detroit city council members James Tate and Janeé Ayers have had enough.

"I think it is ridiculous that we're talking about pens or pencils being allowed into a courthouse," said Ayers.

"It is a bit dehumanizing for the folks who are coming in," said Tate.

Tate said he met privately with Chief Judge Nancy Blount to discuss the matter. Their differences went public last week during budget hearings. When Blount explained that the policy was created to keep out court visitors from defacing the recently spiffed up courthouse.

"We did this based on what we observed in the courthouse with people defacing not only the murals, but the stairwells and other areas," said Blount.

Court Administrator Kelli Moore Owen said the policy is also meant to protect other sensitive court resources.

"It's what's written, you know, about not so nice things about the judges," said Owen.

Folks in city hall for the debate were not impressed with the court's rationale. 

One woman it's difficult to keep track of the case when you can't take notes. Another man remarked on his memory problems, who uses the note taking system to write passwords.

Blount told council members she would review the policy, but she made it clear she would not be pushed around. 

"The city as our funding unit has a statutory duty to fund us, but that doesn't translate into the ability to dictate how we operate," she said.

Tate acknowledges that the council can't force the judge to change her policy and he says he's not looking for a showdown. Instead, he's hoping Judge Blount will be swayed by a groundswell of public opinion.

"I don't want to make this an issue between the councilman and the chief judge or anything of that nature, I think it should be something that the citizens should say overwhelmingly is an overreach," said Tate.