Peter Weinstein has issued a statement in conjunction with the Resiles matter. It’s found here, in Joan Murray’s piece for CBS 4, Monday evening:
“While Court Administration has been asking for additional deputies for years, by statute the Sheriff’s Office has the authority to assign deputies to the courts in Broward County; the Chief Judge does not. While the Chief Judge and the Trial Court Administrator will be involved in upcoming cross-agency security meetings, ultimately, any changes to security in our courts is between the Sheriff’s Office and the Broward County Commission.”
Not surprisingly, Weinstein punted. But since courthouse security is now going to be seriously reevaluated, it’s worth pointing out a few things courthouse regulars might tell you concerning what could be termed “judicial meddling” in BSO courthouse operations.
- Judicial “Pet Peeps”. Judges carry a lot of weight as to which bailiffs are assigned to the courtrooms, and if they don’t get their way, the Sheriff himself could get a call. What this means is bailiffs are often assigned (or booted) by judicial whim, and not by ability, placing the public at risk.
- Limit the number of IC’s to six max. Judges and lawyers may not like it, but everyone can go to lunch a little later when safety is at stake. Instead of pushing bailiffs to pack the jury box full of IC’s in order to burn through the morning docket, judges need to follow BSO recommendations when it comes to how many IC’s can be safely supervised at any one time.
- Cameras on everyone, not just the judges. Believe it or not, the cameras covering the North Wing courtrooms are fixed on the judges. We’ve never been able to figure this one out, even if it’s just another vestige from Broward’s bizarre judicial-centric past. The cameras need to monitor the entire courtroom, because everyone’s safety is important, not just the judges’. Additionally, trained eyes might prevent Resiles type collusion in the gallery before mayhem ensues, if the entire proceedings are monitored, not to mention having evidence preserved in the event of an incident like last Friday’s.
- Stop staffing judicial reception with bailiffs. They don’t do it in Palm Beach or Miami, but Broward judges like having a full-time bailiff sitting in the North Wing reception areas guarding a locked door. The other mentioned circuits have a phone or intercom on the wall, as does Broward, so visitors can call the JA and state their business. If the judge or JA wants to let them in or needs some paperwork, they can do the legwork themselves, instead of keeping a bailiff there all day when the courthouse is already severely short-staffed of security personnel.
- Courtroom assignments. Judges like their fiefdoms. They certainly don’t like to move courtrooms either, which probably explains why one common sense idea wasn’t implemented years ago, namely putting every juvenile courtroom on the fourth floor, instead of throughout the North Wing and one in the old courthouse. The general idea is to keep the highest risk offenders as far from a fire exit as possible, and to make the awful public parade of shackled kids from parking lot to courtroom safer and more manageable for BSO.
Just a few ideas for Weinstein to consider in the coming days. Judges need to stop impacting courthouse security, and focus on their dockets. As previously reported back in 2015, Deputy Command Staff is well on the way to implementing changes whereby each courtroom will be staffed by a combination of armed deputy/corrections officer/bailiff, but until Scott Israel and the County Commission come to a consensus, the judges need to leave security to the pros …