Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Florida judge pulls gun in Court

A Jacksonville judge pulled a gun in court and now the local public defender is questioning the incident.

Judge John Merrett says emotions were running high in court last Friday.

"Apparently a valve popped," says Merrett.

Judge Merrett says it was during a court hearing for Derrick McNiel. McNiel, 21, is charged with sexually battering a six-year-old boy. Merrett says during the hearing, the child's father got upset and jumped over the bar and attacked McNiel.

The incident took place right in front of the judge. The only problem is Judge Merrett couldn't see what was going on.

"I have a huge blind spot on either side of my bench, and all that I could tell was there was some kind of violence going on down on the floor. I didn't know if he was after me, or after the bailiffs, or after the defendants or what he was doing."

Judge Merrett carries a concealed weapons permit. The day of the incident, Judge Merrett was carrying his pistol too.

"I pulled out my sidearm and looked to see what was going on, and when I saw that there were no weapons involved and and it didn't appear that anybody was in any serious danger, I handed the pistol off to my clerk so I wouldn't have it in my hand when I went down there," says Merrett.

The incident has sparked a debate on whether judges should be able to carry a gun in court. By law, they are allowed to with a concealed weapons permit.

Judge Merrett says he never had his hand on the trigger or pointed the gun at anyone.

The public defender, Bill White, would only say he is concerned about judges carrying guns in court. White says he has a meeting with Chief Judge Moran about disarming judges on Thursday. White said he would say more about the incident then.

Chief Judge Moran did not return phone calls for comment.

The father of the boy was charged in the incident and released.

No comments: