NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Offbeat

October 8, 2009

Court delayed when flu-masked inmate spooks lawyer

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A court hearing for a jail inmate in Spokane, Wash., had to be postponed a day because he was wearing a surgical mask and his defense lawyer refused to sit next to him.

The burglary suspect didn't feel sick, but jailers made him wear the mask as a precaution against swine flu because he had shared a cell with sick inmates.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno says it seems "a little paranoid" to do with everyone who has the sniffles. She has called a meeting with lawyers and jail staff Thursday to discuss the flu threat.

The jail requires inmates with cold or flu symptoms, and anyone near them, to wear protective masks when they leave their cells.

The Spokesman-Review reports that the jail also postponed sending an inmate to Oregon last week as a precaution.

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