Last week, a bailiff in a Detroit courtroom believed he saw bed bugs crawling on a court visitor’s body, and the court was evacuated (see this story for more).
That could have been a false alarm — there are all kinds of bugs that might be crawling on someone sitting in a courtroom, which could be mistaken for bed bugs.
But a key point of the story, was that the man’s daughter told reporters her father currently had bed bugs at home (this was reported by the Detroit News, among others).
That fact made the bailiff’s identification of the bugs as bed bugs seem quite plausible.
And then, one day after the incident in question, the media enthusiastically reported that the courtroom had been declared bed bug-free by a pest control operator with a canine scent detection team.
My interpretation, assuming the inspection was accurate, is that the bedbugs did not get left behind when the court was evacuated.
Lucky break, right?
Oddly enough, the Associated Press noted in “Detroit courtroom opens after bedbug false alarm” that the court put out a press release calling the evacuation a “false alarm.”
“False alarm” implies no bed bugs were present on the day of the evacuation.
Where’s the evidence for that?
How do you make the leap from “there seem to be no bed bugs here right now” to “there were no bed bugs on a man in the courtroom yesterday”?
Besides the AP, other media outlets also jumped on the “false alarm” bandwagon.
The Huffington Post’s article title claimed this “was likely a false alarm.”
ClickOnDetroit titled its story, “36th District Court in Detroit says there was never any bedbugs in courtroom,” noting:
A spokeswoman for the court on Friday said a pest control vendor had been called in to investigate and found no evidence of bedbugs.
Court resumed normally.
A pest-control company sprays the building each quarter. Court officials say a dog also is used to sniff out bedbugs.
Hmm. Well if a dog said you have no bed bugs, then…
Oh wait: they’re not 100% accurate!
Whether there were bed bugs in the courtroom the day after the evacuation, or not, this is not a “false alarm,” unless it can be proven the bailiff was mistaken in identifying the bugs as bed bugs in the first place.
It seems very likely, since the man does have bed bugs at home, that there were bed bugs in the courtroom, at least before the evacuation occurred.
And let’s be honest, iIf you saw any kind of bugs crawling on someone inside a building, you’d want to look into it, rather than sit calmly in a nearby chair.
Given the circumstances,Judge Cylenthia LaToye Miller made the right choice.
The Judge herself apparently posted a clarification of the day’s events to her Facebook page, according to the State Bar of Michigan (SBM) blog, and among the points noted by the Judge were:
- The person who had the bed bugs was NOT a witness in the case and was NOT accompanying a witness.
- The person’s daughter admitted he had bed bugs “all over the house.”
- The court Bailiff Tony Kellum informed me and my Clerk Lyn Cain that after he removed the man from the courtroom, he spoke to him in the hall and the man had acted as if it was no big deal that he had bed bugs.
- The other court Bailiff Al Baylor asked the people in the front row to leave the courtroom after Bailiff Tony Kellum informed him about his conversation with the man.
- Tony Kellum also stated that the man was in the men’s bathroom, “scratching and knocking things off of him.”
- Audience members stated that they saw a bug “crawling down the bench” in the courtroom.
That description makes it sound like there were bed bugs in the courtroom, at least while this visitor was present.
I hope the gentleman in question is getting some kind of assistance. As I said in the other article on this story, no one should have to live with a problem like bed bugs.
And I hope the court officials rethink their “false alarm” line. As the Judge also said on her Facebook page, according to SBM,
The fact that no bed bugs were found in the courtroom is a blessing and per the official who contacted me from the Detroit Health & Wellness Promotion Department, we “dodged a bullet.”
Dodging a bullet: that’s not the same as a false alarm, not at all.