Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, November 28, 2003


Page 1


Suspicious Substance Found at Courthouse Remains Under Investigation by Terrorism Task Force


By DAVID WATSON, Staff Writer


A suspicious powder found in a piece of mail at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse downtown Tuesday afternoon remained the subject of investigation Wednesday, a court official said.

Public Information Officer Allan Parachini said the whitish-yellowish substance was discovered by an employee who opened a piece of mail in the court’s Human Resources Department. The mail, which has a return address in Vermont and a New Hampshire postmark, was delivered to that department because it was addressed ambiguously, Parachini said.

He explained that the court’s policy is for the Human Resources Department to handle mail the recipient of which cannot be readily identified.

The employee promptly reported the suspicious substance, and the entire second floor of the courthouse building was evacuated.

“We do not believe that the substance in the envelope is going to turn out to be a toxic substance,” Parachini said. He said that opinion was based on preliminary testing, but added that final test results would not be available until Monday.

The incident is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the Los Angeles Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Parachini said.

Chief Justice Ronald M. George visited the building Tuesday afternoon for a ceremony involving Judge Burt Pines, who was appointed to the court Nov. 12 by then-Gov. Gray Davis. That ceremony was scheduled to take place on the second floor, but was moved to the fifth floor courtroom of Supervising Judge Carolyn Kuhl, Parachini said.

The court spokesman said persons attending the ceremony were escorted to the fifth floor in small groups on the elevators by sheriffs deputies. The ceremony was delayed by the evacuation for about 30 to 45 minutes, he added.

Pines, the judicial appointments secretary to former Gov. Gray Davis, was appointed to the bench along with Deputy District Attorneys Michael D. Carter and Michael A. Latin and lawyers Wendy L. Kohn, Jan G. Levine and Michael P. Linfield. All were sworn in before Davis left office Nov. 17.

Parachini said the court has taken the opportunity to stress to court managers the court’s policies regarding possible hazardous materials received by mail. Those policies were properly followed in Tuesday’s incident, he said.


Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company