Security Flap

The lines to get into Maricopa County courthouses are about to get longer.

Some components of Campbell's controversial edict are yet to be worked out. A final draft of his seven-page missive says that "attorneys whose work-station is within the courthouse (for example, public defenders and county attorneys at the Durango juvenile courthouse, or county attorneys at the southeast courthouse) may apply for security bypass which shall have the same restrictions as employee bypass."

Those restrictions include being subject to random inspection and screening.

But it hasn't yet been sorted out if prosecutors who work in the County Administration Building just west of the West Court building (and attached by a second-floor walkway) will be allowed to carry their own bypass badges.

Judge Campbell's order, however, will allow judges to have an unfettered bypass card that allows them to avoid any further security screening.

Campbell says he's unaware of any instances of judges bringing weapons into their own courtrooms to protect themselves. But news clippings reveal numerous examples of judicial "activism" in the area of self-protection.

In July 2000, the State Bar of Texas reprimanded a district judge for trying to repair two guns on the bench during a capital murder proceeding. "Almost all the judges carry guns," the judge explained to a reporter. "I just should have kept mine under the robes instead of outside."

And U.S. District Court Judge Harvey Schlesinger told a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee in 1999, "Many federal judicial officers currently carry concealed firearms because of safety concerns."

No matter, apparently, to Judge Campbell.

Phoenix criminal defense attorney Sherry Bell, who has been trying to publish an opinion piece in the Maricopa County Lawyer about the bypass issue, wrote this after attending the meeting chaired last month by Judge Campbell:

"If the bench is imbued with an overriding fear of attorneys as a source of potential danger, how can it possibly hear cases from those same attorneys with a lack of bias?"

E-mail paul.rubin@newtimes.com, or call 602-229-8433.

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