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Bailiff suspended for flexing pecs for jurors

The trial was dragging and newly minted bailiff Brian C. Britt realized none of the jurors wanted to be there, so he took matters into his own hands — or at least onto his own pecs.

As the judge spoke to the attorneys during a private sidebar, Britt, 36, started the usual banter to distract the jurors.

He mentioned to the six women and one man that he'd recently made his training officer run out of the courtroom laughing.

How had he done that, one juror asked, at least according to Britt's version of the story.

The well-built deputy showed them. He flexed one pectoral muscle, then the other, a few times quickly.

The jury was in stitches, Britt said, so much so that Britt said he had to "shush" them.

But his instructor saw it differently.

In her statement, Deputy Mary Burch noted that Britt took a special interest in a very attractive juror in the front row.

He took every opportunity to flirt with her, Burch said. At one point the juror, Kelly Fox, turned away from Britt to speak to a juror in the back row.

That's when Britt reached over the half wall and turned Fox's seat so she was facing him, Burch said.

Then he let his pecs dance.

According to Burch, Fox complained later, saying the bailiff was full of himself. Burch brought the complaint to her supervisor.

However, when internal affairs contacted Fox by phone she said she was not upset and Britt did not make her feel uncomfortable. Frankly, she didn't even think the action was directed at her.

Still, the investigation continued.

Investigators wanted to know how he flexed his pecs? Was it alternating? Was it quick? Who saw it? And why?

Sheila Brackens said she and the other jurors were "egging" him on, adding that no one from the audience could see what was happening. "Everybody was laughing. Everybody had a good time."

Michael W. McDonald, the only male juror, explained that he was sitting right in front of Britt when he put on the show.

"He flexed his chest muscles, one-two, one-two. And I told him, I said, 'It really doesn't do anything for me.' It kind of put an end to it right there," McDonald said. "Was it inappropriate? That's not my call. I work in construction and everything is inappropriate."

The powers that be at the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office decided, however, that this action was inappropriate.

Britt, an eight-year veteran of the agency, spent the majority of his career working at the jail, but also handled a position on patrol before being transferred to the courthouse. He was suspended for three days for violating the code of conduct.

At the end of the day, the jury found defendant Thomas Angarano II, not guilty of a criminal mischief charge.

Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Bailiff suspended for flexing pecs for jurors 08/01/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 8, 2008 8:48pm]
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