A blog by Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Brian Tannebaum. Commenting on criminal law issues of local and national interest.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Shooting at Vegas Federal Courthouse Pisses Me Off

I have to tell you that I take for granted the security in federal court. I never think twice about someone coming in with a gun, mainly because my keys and blackberry get a nice pat down upon entrance, and the scanner beeps when the only thing I have on me is my shirt and pants. Must be the tie.

This haunting video, is not really a video, but the sound of a day in court when some angry litigant, angry over the dismissal of his social security case, decides to get his own form of sick justice. This was yesterday, in Las Vegas Federal Court.

Today at every federal courthouse security will be a little tighter. People will get a second look, maybe a third. There is no correlation between what happened in Las Vegas yesterday and federal court anywhere else. People get angry at the grocery store, at the post office, and at work. But it's like when someone with a shoe bomb tries to blow up a plane, well, you know the rest.

We (those who go to court) all have to deal with what happened yesterday. It will happen again, we all know that. But because we cannot stop a sick, angry litigant from sneaking in with a gun, a shotgun, we have to at least pretend we can. The gunman was dressed in black. Watch "no black" be the next addition to the dress code. We can only sigh and understand that this is the world in which we live.

It angers me that today I have to mourn the death of a Court Security Officer, a retired cop now one of the guys in blue jackets that waive familiar lawyers through, and say "how you doin' today counsel?" A guy who just "went to work" right after the new year, and left the courthouse dead. Five seconds before he was probably talking to a prosecutor, defense lawyer, or fellow security officer about his New Year's vacation, or the weekend's football games.

Pisses me off.

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com


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  1. Anonymous2:55 PM

    I am curious, if you had been asked to defend the suspect in this case, and offered to have you fees paid, would you have defended him in court?

  2. Common question, and I'll assume it's a real inquiry and not a "how could you" type shot across the bow.

    In any case, the issue is whether the lawyer is competent to handle the case, and whether there is a conflict.

    For example, I do not handle death penalty cases, so if this defendant was facing the death penalty, I would not take the case.

    If I was friends with the victims or their family or had another personal conflict, I would not take the case because that would be detrimental to the defendant's right to a fair trial.

    The issue of fees is not relevant, because a judge may appoint me to a case, and I would go through the same analysis - am I competent to handle the type of case, and do I have a conflict.

    We as criminal defense lawyers go through this analysis in every case. While your question may be related to whether the fee is the controlling issue, I can tell you that I have turned down huge fees by doing this analysis.

  3. Anonymous7:57 AM

    Thanks for the reply. Going on that theme, if you were the victim of a crime and asked if you wanted to press charges or see them dismissed or reduced, what would you do?