Court Security

Judge who survived courthouse shooting now educates others about domestic-violence case risks

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Almost exactly 10 years after he survived a sniper-style shooting by a man whose divorce case he was overseeing, a Nevada judge is still on the bench.

But Reno Family Court Judge Chuck Weller has since educated himself about the threats posed by individuals in domestic violence cases and is working to educate other jurists as well, reports the Reno Gazette-Journal.

“I wanted to understand what happened and put it into context,” he told the newspaper, explaining why he had gone on to earn a master’s degree and a doctorate in the field and teach at the National Judicial College. “That’s the reason I started to study more about domestic violence, because in my mind this was clearly an act of domestic violence. And I wanted to also learn about court security, and I find what happened to me was typical of court security incidents.”

Weller, who was shot through a courthouse window, was injured by shrapnel and shattered glass in the June 12, 2006 shooting. Millionaire businessman Darren Mack, who stabbed his wife to death shortly before the courthouse shooting, pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder. He has since sought, unsuccessfully, to recant his plea. He is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 36 years.

Among the warning signs Mack displayed, according to retired Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick, who spoke with Mack before the crimes were committed, was excessive anger: “Every time, he was pretty fired up about his wife, who he was getting divorced with, and he really zeroed in on the judge, big time,” the former DA said.

Mack could not be reached for comment and his former defense attorney Scott Freeman, who is now himself a Washoe County judge, did not respond to a request for comment from the newspaper.

In the past, Mack has argued that he killed his much smaller spouse in self-defense, following physical and emotional abuse. Freeman wrote in a 2007 memo attached by Mack to a federal court filing that Mack had said he was justified in shooting at a “corrupt” judge who ruled against him on divorce issues.

Related coverage: “Man who killed wife, shot at divorce judge through courthouse window calls counsel ineffective”

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