County Commission Panel To Study Security Request By Sessions Judges

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A County Commission committee will look into the best way to fulfill a request by General Sessions Court judges for improved security in the courtroom used to hear civil matters.

The commission on Wednesday considered a resolution to spend $8,000 to raise the bench where the judge sits and to add safety features to it in Courtroom 6 on the second floor of the Courts Building.

That room was initially designed for the juries to assemble. However, it was converted to a courtroom, and the jury assembly was moved up to the third floor.

Commissioner Jim Fields, who is an attorney, questioned whether it would not be better to have the General Sessions Court judges hold civil court on the third floor and move the juries back down to the second floor.

He said currently the judges have to walk in a public hallway in order to reach Courtroom 6 on the second floor.

Commissioner Fields said the room being used by the juries on the third floor is spacious and has a high bench with a security design. He said access to the bench is from a secure hallway to a door in the back of the bench.

A motion to table a vote on the $8,000 in updates to the bench on the second floor was tabled. Voting against tabling were Greg Beck, Warren Mackey and Marty Haynes.

Commissioner Beck, who heads the building and grounds committee, questioned by Commissioners Fields and Joe Graham went on a tour of the courtrooms with County Mayor Jim Coppinger without other commissioners being notified.

He said tabling the motion was "going around what the judges want."

Commissioner Beck, who works on the second floor of the Courts Building as a court officer for City Judge Sherry Paty, said General Sessions Court judges may be reluctant to hold court on the third floor.

He said that floor is for Criminal Court, "and there are reasons for these territories."

Chairman Larry Henry asked Commissioner Beck to have his panel look into the issue, and he agreed to do so. 


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