A Marshall County Attorney in the midst of prosecuting an attempted murder case was asked by the court Wednesday to remove a smudge of ash from his forehead, a Catholic custom done in conjunction with the beginning of Lent.

CrossofashesConservative writer Ken Black of the Marshalltown Times-Republican reports that Paul Crawford, an assistant county attorney, returned to the courtroom following a lunch break with the ash on his forehead. Catholics place the mark, which is often done in the shape of a cross, on their foreheads as a sign of repentance. The ash itself is often a by-product of the burning of palm crosses from the previous year, mixed lightly with holy water and sacred oils. Many recipients of the mark will wear it until it naturally wears off.

Prior to the jury returning, an attorney for the defense objected to the marking, and indicated that it could influence the jury in the case.

Judge Michael Moon agreed and requested the Crawford remove the smudge before the case proceeded. The attorney did so and the case moved forward without further discussion or incident.