The Harris County Criminal (In)justice Center is a 20-story building. There are two banks of elevators for the public. One bank takes people up to the 10th floor and the other bank services the upper 10 floors of the building. There is one main entrance with two entrances. There are four metal detectors.
Docket call in most courts is 9:00 a.m. This is the scene this past Wednesday morning at 8:55 a.m. - five minutes before docket call.
For the first year I was in practice I had to stand in these lines and pass through the metal detectors. Now, to be fair, the lines don't look like this everyday - but it happens enough when it's cold, raining or boiling hot to make the entire experience one massive headache.
So, to avoid standing in the lines, I applied for a frequent court visitor badge. I had to undergo a background check and pay some money but I got my card that allowed me to pass into the building like a ninja. But why should we be forced to get a card in order to walk into the courthouse unimpeded?
Prosecutors get their cards with their jobs. They can walk into the building carrying a weapon and no one will say a thing. It is my understanding that someone in the DA's office can veto an attorney's application for the badge.
What gives? The last time I checked, the courthouse belonged to the people. That's all the people, not just those who work in, for and with law enforcement.
All attorneys, whether prosecutors or defenders, are officers of the court. There is no good reason that any attorney should have to pay for the privilege of walking into the building without having to strip to pass through the metal detectors. The entire charade is nothing but a power play by the county to show us all who's (supposedly) in charge.
Every attorney who's a member in good standing with the State Bar of Texas should have unfettered access to every courthouse throughout the state.