Security in lower courts vital, too

As Jefferson County Common Pleas Court Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. continues to recover from being shot Monday morning, the thoughts of many local officials continued to focus on courthouse security. Though no amount of it would have prevented the judge’s shooting — which occurred outside the courthouse — such attention is appropriate.

But common pleas judges in Ohio and circuit court judges in West Virginia are not the only jurists who make enemies. Those in charge of lower-level justice, such as district and magistrate judges, also are at risk.

While police officers or sheriff’s deputies often are present when those lower courts are in session, they may not be adequate protection for district and magistrate court judges.

Putting in place the level of security present or planned for most courthouses in our area may not be practical for lower courts. But any review of steps to keep courthouses safe should include a look at district and magistrate court facilities and personnel.

In some situations, mere changes in procedures could offer an additional layer of security. In others, a few more dollars spent on security measures could help greatly — quite possibly saving lives.

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