Berrien County shooting raises questions about courtroom safety

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(WLNS) – While many are still mourning the loss after yesterday’s shooting, others are asking about the possibility of this happening in any courtroom.

Larry Gordon, the man police say is responsible for yesterday’s shooting, had been housed for a brief time on federal charges in Clinton County.

After the shooting, Ingham County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina says, there needs to be a response.

“We cannot afford to lose any officer, any individual, we need to be proactive,” Judge Aquilina said.

The process of the safety of the trial starts with transporting the inmate.

“We want to keep the community safe, we want to keep our officers safe and we want to keep the inmate safe so every day when we do transports we don’t want to run into the what ifs, we want to be prepared ahead of time,” Clinton County Jail Administrator Monica Hoskins said.

One of the ways transport officers make sure they are taking steps securely is by evaluating their inmate and securing them according to their threat level.

There are different levels of restraint and Clinton County uses a secure van to transport the inmate straight to an elevator at the courthouse, and then to the court room, where Judge Aquilina says, is not as safe as it needs to be.

“We do not have enough resources, there really needs some more state and federal funding to back up the county funding across Michigan,” Judge Aquilina said.

Despite special restraints available, Aquilina says there are multiple holes in her courtroom, including how close the defendant is to her and the jury. But safety isn’t the only aspect of these court cases, the defendant also has to be given a fair trial.

“He is a regular citizen and he’s presumed innocent. We want to make sure that presumption carries not only in the law but in the eyes of the jurors,” Attorney with Abood Law Firm Andrew Abood said.

Aquilina says it can be a hard balancing act but her main priority is keeping every person in her courtroom safe, and for that to happen, changes need to be made.

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