Courthouses

In case you’re not already well aware, a punishing heat wave has been pummeling the East Coast for days. It is freaking HOT out. There’s nothing quite like walking outside of an air-conditioned building and getting punched in the face with a burst of swelteringly humid air. Seriously, there hasn’t been a single day this week when the temperature hasn’t reached the upper 90s. People — especially in New York — are pissed off in general that they have to be alive and function as human beings right now.

You can imagine how pleased these folks must be when they have to attend to their own legal wranglings during this time of extreme weather. Because if you like the justice system, then you’re going to LOVE it when you’re dripping with sweat inside of a courthouse.

What better way to soothe the already angry mob than to throw bed bugs into the mix?

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‘Raise meow, please?’

He’s the best employee I’ve got and I don’t have to pay his health insurance.

Steve Wyatt, manager of Henderson County, North Carolina, offering high praise for Mr. Jingles, a cat that has solved the rodent problem that previously plagued the county’s historic courthouse.

Your Honor, I object

Turns out, it rains in Florida. I know this because the entire state is basically a reclaimed swamp whose natural, soggy wildlife has been replaced by hot women.

Unfortunately, there are some people in Florida that don’t understand that it rains there often. These people seem to be in charge of the maintenance of one South Florida courthouse. You see, occasionally the government actually needs money to function properly. Otherwise you end up needing a kayak to go to court…

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Just days after the act of terror at the Boston Marathon, yet another bomb scare has occurred in Beantown.

According to media reports that have been confirmed by the police, the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston was evacuated due to a bomb threat after a “Code Red” was announced at the scene. Onlookers describe what’s going on as “utter mayhem.”

This “Code Red” is apparently the first in the courthouse’s history. We hope everyone there is safe, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated as we learn more.

UPDATE (4:30 p.m.): Sources report that the courthouse has been opened to employees only, but that the FBI media briefing on the Boston Marathon Bombing is postponed due to the bomb threat.

‘Code red’ prompts evacuation at South Boston courthouse [FOX Boston]
Heavy Security Around Federal Courthouse in Boston [WBSM]
Updates on the Aftermath of Boston Marathon Explosions [The Lede / New York Times]

Earlier: Explosions Hit the Boston Marathon

‘This sequester thing is going great’ — said no one outside of Washington.

Yesterday, we talked about how an austerity budget in Detroit has led to a broken justice system in Detroit. In fairness, nobody much cares about that story because, well, it’s Detroit and f**k ‘em.

But I wonder if people will care when Detroit’s style of “we can’t afford this” justice comes to a courthouse near you.

While it looks like lawmakers will come to a compromise that will avoid a government shut down (for another couple of months), it looks like that deal will keep the sequester in place.

The sequester, of course, was designed to be a TERRIBLE IDEA that has a serious deleterious impact on our country. But I guess since the sequester didn’t stop anybody from watching fat people diving into swimming pools, Congress isn’t really motivated to do anything about it.

And our system of justice gets crappier still….

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Earlier this month, we talked about “Punk Defendant” Penelope Soto. Soto was charged with possession of Xanax, and during her arraignment she gave the judge the finger.

Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat cited her for contempt and sentenced her to 30 days in jail.

Soto has cleaned up her act, got her contempt sentence dropped, and appeared in court earlier this week, where she was complimented by a different judge.

And I’ve got to admit, I feel bad about calling her a “punk” in the first place. I now think that she was high during her initial, profane court appearance, and they should have dried her out before sending her up before the judge….

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In recent weeks, we’ve seen a great deal of gun violence — a law firm shooting in Arizona, resulting in the death of a partner, as well as a shooting outside of a courthouse, resulting in the death of a prosecutor.

This morning, multiple people in the New Castle County Courthouse, the home base of Delaware’s Court of Chancery, were shot, and at least one was killed.

The situation is still developing, but here’s what we know right now….

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If you can’t laugh at these defendants, then you can’t be a defense attorney. Or a prosecutor, most likely. You could be a judge, though — a judge with no sense of humor.

We’ve got a couple of stories today about defendants behaving very badly in court. Hilariously badly. “I could have walked out of this courtroom, but now I’m going to jail for contempt,” badly.

Looking at these two stories together will allow us to analyze one important question about courthouse etiquette: is it worse to flip off a judge, or to physically assault an attorney?

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I was just on HuffPost Live debating gun regulation with Professor Eugene Volokh, among others. It was a good discussion where I argued that guns should be regulated like cars, and Volokh thought it would be a good idea to regulate guns like cars… and then we completely disagreed about what that would mean.

But I wasn’t off the webcam for five minutes when another tragic story about gun violence came across the wire. A man in Alabama shot himself inside an Alabama federal courthouse.

I’m not sure that there’s any regulation, up to and including abolishing the Second Amendment entirely, that would stop these kinds of situations entirely. But I am, again, shocked that courthouse security was such that this guy was able to get a firearm in there in the first place….

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I don’t know who to believe about the so-called fiscal cliff. I think Steve Kornacki is right and it’s more like a fiscal slope. But if the markets keep acting like petulant children who are easily frightened, then it will really have a deleterious impact on our economy. Then again, Wall Street being happy doesn’t necessarily translate into Main Street being happy, so who knows? The only thing I’m sure of is that conducting politics by holding the nation hostage is freaking stupid. I hope they fix the fiscal thingy and the debt ceiling in the same deal, so America can get back to problems that we haven’t created for ourselves on purpose.

In any event, if we do going tumbling off the cliff or down the slope or around the bend, there will be pain for those who don’t deserve it. While Article I fights it out with Article II, Article III prepares to lay people off, while the fourth estate just wants to see more people fighting.

People who work for federal courts, prepared to be caught in the crossfire….

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