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Eighty-nine Capitol Police officers have signed a friend of the court brief on behalf of former officer James Pickett, who was convicted of making false statements in connection with a note and a white, powdery substance he left at his post in November 2001. [IMGCAP(1)]

The 14-year veteran of the force was terminated following his jury conviction in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia earlier this year. The U.S. Court of Appeals has agreed to hear his case.

The defense repeatedly asserted during the trial that none of the Capitol Police officers who found the note took it seriously, and Pickett himself said when he took the stand that he meant it as an editorial statement on the lack of training the force received after the anthrax attacks.

The brief, submitted late last month by the D.C. chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, argues that those circumstances prove the note was satire, making it constitutionally protected speech. “Pickett’s statement could not reasonably have been understood as stating actual facts,” Art Spitzer, the chapter’s legal director wrote.

The note left by Pickett read: “Please inhale. Yes this could be? Call your doctor for flu symptoms. This is a Capitol Police training exercize [sic]! I hope you pass!”

Eisenhower Unveiling. Public tours will be suspended Wednesday during a 2 p.m. Statuary Hall presentation of a statue of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Although public tours are canceled all day, staff-led tours will be permitted on the first floor of the Capitol throughout Wednesday, according to a “Dear Colleague” letter sent out last week by House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood. Statuary Hall will be available for staff-led tours for approximately one hour, beginning at 9 a.m. The Rotunda will be closed.

“As always, there will be no restrictions regarding groups personally escorted by a Member of Congress,” Livingood wrote.

The House gallery will remain accessible during the closures. All visitors should be directed to the south screening facility.

— Suzanne Nelson

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