The objective of this assignment is to enable you to demonstrate your understanding of problems and opportunities related to court security. Providing for appropriate security is a challenge faced by court administrators in an age of heightened concern about possible terrorism or other forms of violent outbreaks associated with court processes. Given the changes in court workloads as well as the growth in alternative mechanisms for resolving disputes (e.g., pre-trial meetings, out-of-court settlement conferences, informal settlements, or legal strategy conversations and mediations), judicial proceedings have spilled beyond the walls of the courtroom.
Here is a case in point: In the Los Angeles Superior Courts, a case may be called in one of the courtrooms but the judge may decide to order the parties to attempt to settle their differences prior to the case being heard in open court through a settlement conference or mediation. However, in most courthouses, the facilities for such conversations are virtually nonexistent. For example, at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center on West Temple Street in downtown Los Angeles, benches in hallways, a vacant jury room, or even a corner table in the cafeteria on the first floor are typical venues for these types of sessions. Although normal security procedures are in effect at the building entrances (e.g., X-ray machines, hand wands, armed L.A. County Sheriff officers, CCTV cameras), courtrooms (e.g., court security officers), and for certain secured areas (e.g., electronic card access, CCTV cameras), officers are not on duty nor are cameras evident in every area where out-of-court meetings may occur. Given that many people who access a courthouse on any given day are angry or disgruntled and possibly have histories of violence, the spilling of court-related proceedings into nonsecure areas of the courthouse may be cause for concern from a security perspective. Yet, funds for expansion in security precautions are often limited and under most budget scenarios, court administrators who oversee facility security must manage this new wrinkle creatively.