Michigan’s Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday allowing lower state courts to “exercise reasonable control” over the appearance of witnesses and parties, a rule change proposed after a Muslim woman refused to remove an Islamic garment in a small claims court.
The order allows courts “reasonable control over the appearance of parties and witnesses” so as to “ensure that the demeanor of such persons may be observed and assessed by the fact-finder and ensure the accurate identification of such person.”
The order, which amends a rule of the Michigan Rules of Evidence, is effective September 1.
The amendment was prompted by a 2006 small claims case in Michigan filed by Ginnah Muhammad, who wore a niqab – a garment that covers the entire face and head, except for the eyes – to court, the order said.
See also “Woman sues, claims judge forced her to remove hijab”,CNN, 26 August 2009