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Quote of the Day - When in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns. - Raymond Chandler
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Courthouse Security Procedures Need Revamping, But How?

Courthouse security will be the focus of attention in the coming months. We can expect that it will begin to look more like airport security, but even so, that won't stop the shootout that happened in Atlanta last week.

Put people with guns in a courthouse, and ... well, think about it. Should we be surprised? Not at all. In fact, the Atlanta situation isn't the first time a defendant grabbed a Deputy's gun. Can it happen where you live?

The main courthouse here in Orange County has a bulletproof bench area for the judge, but that leaves everyone else in the courtroom exposed. Unlike Baltimore courthouses (first link of the last paragraph), I don't think there are trap escape doors for the judges. How do we solve those problems?

Handcuff criminal defendants? What about the other non-criminal defendants who bring guns to court? And what about outlying courts? Here in "The OC," there are four other courthouses that have no security at all. Only the main courthouse and the family/juvenile courthouse have security in place.

In fact, when I was in one of these non-secure courthouses last week, a deputy noticed a large backpack next to someone in the courtroom. The deputy questioned the owner: "Do you have any weapons in there? Any bombs?" The owner shook his head no. No searches, no look in the backpack. Nothing.

Wow. Made me feel secure.

Heck, it's not even safe to go to church anymore.

Some courtwatchers have proposed two deputies, one unarmed that handles the inmate, the other - who doesn't come near the inmate - is armed. Sounds logical to me. It doubles the labor costs of a trial, but given the consequences, it certainly seems worth it.

Should we be arming judges and court clerks so they can defend themselves? Should the deputies be completely unarmed? Should we move criminal trials to the jailhouse where security is tightest?

Atlanta gets to do it all over again sometime this coming week, when the shooting suspect returns to court. Something tells me security procedures will be different this time.

What do you recommend to solve this problem?

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Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, March 13, 2005 at 22:14 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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