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Thread: Is Winchester in violation with regard to how they set up their courthouse?

  1. #1
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    Is Winchester in violation with regard to how they set up their courthouse?

    Any of you been to the courthouse in Winchester?

    The first floor houses the clerks office, the Sheriffs Dept and some other office. All of the courtrooms are on the second floor. There are metal detectors as soon as you walk in and no weapons allowed in any portion of the building. Is this in violation of 18.2-283.1. Carrying weapon into courthouse?

    I remember VCDL working some issue similar in another town but couldn't find the post.

  2. #2
    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    It may be in violation but it is a common practice.

    Hanover, Henrico, James City, Lunenburg and many others do the same thing.

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    I believe all court rooms at the Circuit Court building in Hampton are on the second floor too. You used to be able to enter the front doors of the court house on the first floor and make a right and walk along a hall along the building front wall straight to the clerks office with a pocket knife or anything else you had on you. The metal detectors were a few feet furthur back from the door.

    Now they are right at the door and you have to go through them to be allowed to go to anywhere in the building including the clerks office. It is "claimed" that the reason you have to go through the detectors to go to the clerks office is because you can go through the clerks office and into other parts of the building. I do not think the general public is allowed to use those accesses if they really do exist. It is a very old building. There is planning going on for a new Circuit Court building.

    The current General District court house was built a few years ago. The detectors are at the front doors and you have to go through them to go anywhere in that building too.

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator ed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    It may be in violation but it is a common practice.

    Hanover, Henrico, James City, Lunenburg and many others do the same thing.
    Add Leesburg/Loudoun County Courthouse too.
    Carry On.

    Ed

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Refresh my memory here, is there any traction on this issue anywhere in the state? I assume that restricting carry in any non-courtroom part of the building is technically a violation of 15.2-915. I also supposed you'd be hard pressed to find a judge that would rule against his own courtroom if you decided to press it.

    The City of Fredericksburg is just now in the process of final negotiations and contract award for a new courthouse complex in downtown Fredericksburg. This might be a good time to ask these sorts of questions.

    TFred

    ETA: I did find out that the new Spotsylvania County courthouse is set up the same way, one security point at the main entrance for the entire building.
    Last edited by TFred; 10-18-2011 at 12:43 AM.

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Despite the previously cited case that defined "courthouse" to be only the part of a building where the court actually meets, I fear that this may very well be a losing battle, if for no other reason than money.

    I suspect that it would be cost prohibitive to design or modify existing court buildings to isolate the secured portion of the building to only those areas used by the courts.

    I suspect that if we push the issue* with an AG opinion or even a court case, the General Assembly will quickly redefine "courthouse" to mean the entire building in which the courts meet. What alternative would they have? Nobody is going to be able to come up with three or four times the money required to set up the additional equipment and personnel required to have multiple security zones.

    Thoughts?

    TFred

    I suspect that as 15.2-915 now reads, we would win, but that would quickly be followed by new legislation to change the rules. This might be one of those cases like "no-carry signs", never point out the lack of signs, or you will surely get them. If there are some courthouses in the state where you can carry in certain parts, then that's fine, but if we push it, we might lose those as well.

  7. #7
    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    More thoughts:

    If my previous analysis is correct, and we truly cannot win the courthouse/courtroom battle, perhaps the next best step would be to push for legislation that requires courthouses to provide individual lockers at the security checkpoint for law-abiding citizens to store their legal guns and camera phones, and voice recorders, while they conduct their business in the building.

    That would seem better than leaving a gun in your car, and walking unarmed between the parking area and the door of the courthouse.

    Thoughts?

    TFred
    Last edited by TFred; 10-20-2011 at 12:49 PM.

  8. #8
    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TFred View Post
    More thoughts:

    If my previous analysis is correct, and we truly cannot win the courthouse/courtroom battle, perhaps the next best step would be to push for legislation that requires courthouses to provide individual lockers at the security checkpoint for law-abiding citizens to store their legal guns and camera phones, and voice recorders, while they conduct their business in the building.

    That would seem better than leaving a gun in your car, and walking unarmed between the parking area and the door of the courthouse.

    Thoughts?

    TFred
    I'd rather leave it in the car and trust the street thugs than log it in in the courthouse (Which they'd require) and trust the honesty of the powers that be.

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    I'd rather leave it in the car and trust the street thugs than log it in in the courthouse (Which they'd require) and trust the honesty of the powers that be.
    My suggestion is for a set of lockers, like you might see in a gym, something like this:

    http://www.schoollockers.com/gym-loc...x-lockers.html

    Ideally, it would be the kind with the built-in key lock (like you used to see at airports or at a public beach facility), but with no charge to use. Security wouldn't be the main concern, since they would be there nearby the security guards, who would see any attempts to break in.

    I would not want to just hand stuff over, not at all.

    TFred

  10. #10
    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TFred View Post
    My suggestion is for a set of lockers, like you might see in a gym, something like this:

    http://www.schoollockers.com/gym-loc...x-lockers.html

    Ideally, it would be the kind with the built-in key lock (like you used to see at airports or at a public beach facility), but with no charge to use. Security wouldn't be the main concern, since they would be there nearby the security guards, who would see any attempts to break in.

    I would not want to just hand stuff over, not at all.

    TFred
    It's a good idea TFred, but it won't happen that way. History would repeat itself.

    Richmond used to check guns at the metal detector. The Deputy would log it with Serial Number, tag it and stick it on a shelf.

    Henrico would let some of us use their lockers at one time. I'd get the key after they logged it and put it in for me.

    MCV would log it and stick it in a drawer.

    The Capitol Police promised a locker setup as you suggested, if the GA would go along with keeping us undocumented rabble from carrying. The GA went along with it and I'm still looking for the lockers.

  11. #11
    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    It's a good idea TFred, but it won't happen that way. History would repeat itself.

    Richmond used to check guns at the metal detector. The Deputy would log it with Serial Number, tag it and stick it on a shelf.

    Henrico would let some of us use their lockers at one time. I'd get the key after they logged it and put it in for me.

    MCV would log it and stick it in a drawer.

    The Capitol Police promised a locker setup as you suggested, if the GA would go along with keeping us undocumented rabble from carrying. The GA went along with it and I'm still looking for the lockers.
    So we need to have the GA codify the requirement!

    Fredericksburg is in the design process for their new courthouse right now. I may put out some feelers and see if I get any traction.

    TFred

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    As luck would have it, I ran into the Fredericksburg City Manager late this afternoon, and we had the opportunity to cordially chat for a few minutes. In the course of our conversation, I asked him if the new city courthouse plans had any provision for a place to secure items belonging to visitors that would not be allowed into the building, such as cell phones, cameras, or legally concealed weapons. He said he was not aware of any such plans, and that he understood that the normal procedure for such items is to have the bailiff at the security check-point hold the items.

    So I guess that is the status-quo, and not likely to change on its own.

    TFred

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