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Should Courthouse Security Go Easy on Attorneys? 2 State Representatives Say There Ought to Be a Law

Posted Feb 1, 2012 6:44 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Few lawyers are overjoyed about the security line at the St. Louis County courthouse, which operates more like an airport security checkpoint than most.

In addition to putting coats and bags through a metal detector, attorneys, like everyone else in line to enter the Clayton, Mo., facility, routinely take off their shoes and belts, too, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"I fly a lot. I can tell you that the stuff I have to take off to get into the airport is about the same level I have to strip down to when I go to the courthouse," attorney Timothy W. Jones tells the newspaper. "It is almost getting completely undressed."

Unlike the average courthouse attorney, Jones is also a state lawmaker. He and another state representative who is also an attorney, albeit at the other end of the political spectrum, have jointly introduced a measure in the legislature that would allow lawyers to go through a special line at the St. Louis County courthouse, which stands virtually alone in the state in implementing security measures to this degree, the Post-Dispatch explains.

The amped up protective measures at the Clayton courthouse trace back to a 20-year-old incident there. A 53-year-old aerospace technician pulled two guns out of his briefcase just before a divorce hearing, shot his wife to death and injured four others, including two lawyers. However, a number of current security measures were imposed only a few years ago, after a box cutter was found.

Some question whether the enhanced measures are really necessary, and they come at a cost, the newspaper points out—criminal defendants who are late to court because of a delay in the security line could go to jail. However, having state lawmakers potentially tell the judiciary how to run a courthouse raises hackles, too.

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