Docket Call At The Criminal Courthouse: Double Whammy Nightmare

Categories: Courts

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Photo by Paul Kennedy
​The daily docket-call clusterfuck at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center is an old story. It's been pretty bad ever since the new building opened, but some attorneys are saying that the situation is now worse than ever.

It's actually not one but two clusterfucks. The first roils outside the building and winds its way through the X-rays and metal detectors. Once past security, you're stuck in another logjam -- a scrum/mosh pit in the woefully inadequate elevator bank. Murray Newman all but likens it to the Black Hole of Calcutta here .

Local defense attorney Paul Kennedy recently took up the matter on his blog . "The problem is there are too many people trying to get through too small a space at the same time every morning," he writes. "Security measures have become draconian to the point of ridiculousness. The elevator system was obsolete the day the courthouse opened and the stairs are damn near inaccessible."

"It seemed like it had gotten better for a while," he tells Hair Balls. "But now they are making people take their shoes off and things have gotten more unmanageable."

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Photo by Murray Newman
​Asked if this was security penis envy, a "if the airlines do it, then we need to do it" phenomenon, or in response to some tangible specific threat, Kennedy equivocally indicated the latter. "I think there was something that happened," he says.

Most attorneys have badges that allow them to sidestep the front-steps/security clusterfuck, but an increasing number do not have the badges, he says. He says the badge program is on hiatus, no longer accepting new applications or renewals, as the county seeks a contractor to perform the necessary background checks. Every day more and more attorneys are forced into the first throng, so expect the lamentations to grow exponentially until the badge program gets going again.

In the meantime, Kennedy has an elegant little partial solution: stagger the docket calls. "Have docket calls in odd-numbered courts at 9 a.m. and in even-numbered courts at 10 a.m., or the other way around," he writes. "Rotate it from week-to-week or month-to-month. Judge Larry Standley in County Court No. 6 has the right idea -- his docket call is at 9:30 a.m and gives everyone a little breathing room in the morning."

There's only one problem with that idea. It's simply too sensible.

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