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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Pardon me judge, is that a gun under your robe?

As the Minnesota courts scrounge for the money to install metal detectors to protect our appellate court judges, some Michigan lawmakers want to go one step further and let judges to take their security into their own hands.

Rep. Kenneth B. Horn, R-Frankenmuth, and Sen. Roger Kahn, M.D., R-Saginaw, have introduced identical bills proposing to amend the Concealed Weapons Act to allow "state court judges" to carry concealed weapons in what are otherwise known as "no-carry" zones, according to Minnesota Lawyer's sister publication, Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

Judges and their families "are being threatened by" people whom they've sent to prison, Kahn said. Some of those making threats are felons who will be released after serving their sentences, while others are "mentally unstable," and others, still, have histories of "extreme violence," he added.

Judge Fred L. Borchard, Chief Judge Pro Tempore of the 10th Circuit Court, had his life threatened twice by litigants who have appeared before him.

Borchard said that, in his experience, there are three types of cases that really bring out the emotional and, occasionally, the menacing side of people:

-- Criminal;
-- Civil commitments involving mental health issues; and
-- Family law (ranging from divorce to custody to termination of parental rights).

"All of these matters place members of the judiciary at a greater risk of harm," Borchard said.

Judges with guns? An interesting concept. I suppose proponents might say that it's worth a shot.

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