Thursday, September 13, 2001
Courts Around County Re-Open but Remain on Alert
By a MetNews Staff Writer
It was a mixed bag for courts in Los Angeles County yesterday, as most opened for regular business, some remained dark and some proceeded amid confusion over just which courtrooms were operating and which were not.
All courthouses were slated to conduct regular business today.
The Los Angeles Superior Court, which completely shut down Tuesday in the wake of terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., reopened without incident and with only slightly slower-than-usual lines at the security checkpoints at downtown’s Central Courthouse and Criminal Courts Building. Spokesman Kyle Christopherson said the same was true at the court’s 56 other facilities around the county.
In the federal buildings on the eastern edge of the Civic Center, it was business as usual for the public at 300 N. Los Angeles where the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Internal Revenue Service operate.
But only government employees were admitted to the U.S. District Courthouse at 312 N. Spring Street and the Roybal Federal Building on East Temple Street. Deputy marshals who had clustered around the entrances to both courthouses on Tuesday were replaced by security personnel officers requesting to see federal identification before allowing employees in.
Courtrooms in both buildings were closed.
Prosecutors, public defenders and other personnel who work in the District Courthouse reported for work. Assistant U.S. Attorney Miriam Krinsky, who heads the appeals division, said there was some initial confusion because a number of employees who came to work early in the morning were turned away. They were let in later after deputies got word of the Justice Department’s order to conduct a regular business day.
At the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, one panel went ahead with arguments yesterday and in fact moved up Friday’s hearings to today.
One case—a habeas corpus hearing in a death penalty case—was heard by conference call.
The other panel stayed dark and moved its matters to today.
The Pasadena courthouse was one of the few federal justice facilities that conducted regular business throughout the morning on Tuesday, hearing a full complement of arguments while other federal courthouses around the state were closed.
California Highway Patrol officers were joined by armed personnel from the state Alcoholic Beverage Control agency at the Ronald Reagan State Building, where the pubic was admitted only after showing identification.
The Reagan Building is the state’s Southern California headquarters and houses the governor and the Supreme Court when they are away from their Sacramento and San Francisco bases. The building at 300 S. Spring St. also houses most of the Second District Court of Appeal, which was closed yesterday.
Arguments slated for Tuesday that did not go forward were rescheduled for Oct. 2.
Clara Slifkin, an assistant state attorney general, said everyone in her office was at work yesterday.
“But security is on high alert,” she added. “I’ve never seen the building like this.”
Slifkin noted that Attorney General Bill Lockyer asked employees for patience in dealing with the extra security precautions. Lockyer also distributed a list of service agencies and blood banks for employees who wanted to assist victims.
Highway Patrol Sgt. Craig Whittly said the building opened for business at 6 a.m., but that non-employees would continue to be admitted only after they “state their business” and show identification to officers.
He declined to say when the extra security would be pulled out.
“We will be manning this for a while,” he said.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company