Troubleshooters: Courtroom in Friday brawl lacks security feature

A door closing access to the judge's bench is missing in courtroom 203.
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 5:21 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Friday brawl that shut down Louisville judge Anne Haynie’s courtroom showed the room has a security problem.

A door separating the judge and clerks from the public and defendants isn’t there.

District Court Judge Anne Haynie said she’s never been involved in a fight like this in all her time on the bench.

She’s stepping down in two months and hopes a security door on the bench will be replaced before she is.

A trip to the Hall of Justice is pretty routine. Everyone must pass through security, bags get x-rayed, and metal items are searched.

Deputies roam the halls and are stationed in courtrooms. There are more physical barriers there too, including doors closing up the bench in the courtrooms except in 203.

What the court camera didn’t capture in Friday’s fight is this gap in the judge’s bench. There is no door or hinges. Just the empty mortise where heavy hinges were once before.

“It’s been a long while,” Haynie said. “I don’t know exactly when I noticed it, I want to say it’s been that way as long as I’ve been in this courtroom.”

She said the brawl was the scare of her career, and that the door has been missing since at least January.

“It exposes the clerks who need just as much protection as I do,” Haynie said.

WAVE News checked every open courtroom in the Hall of Justice Tuesday. Every bench had a door, giving the judge and clerks one final line of defense.

“Any barriers to getting behind a bench is helpful,” Haynie said. “It has a lock mechanism, it’s not something you could push open.”

Haynie said she asked for the door to be replaced following the brawl. WAVE News asked metro if there was any existing repair order for the door. They said there was none.

“The sheriffs (deputies) do the best job they can do to protect us, but there are other things we can do to protect us, like fix the door,” Haynie said. “I would feel better if that kind of stuff was done.”

A court spokesperson said a replacement door request was filed with metro Monday.

It is not known how long it will take to get the new door installed. The next hearing with the murder defendant and the families is set for next week.