No containers in St. Louis County court

Beginning next Monday, no packages, bags, purses, sacks or containers of any type will be allowed in courtrooms of the St. Louis County Courthouse in Duluth.

The Duluth News Tribune reports the policy was announced on Friday in a news release from the Sixth Judicial District, which includes St. Louis, Cook, Lake and Carlton counties.

Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Leslie Beiers said the policy is a concession to reality.

“These days we use a variety of tools and strategies to do what we can to keep our public buildings safe,” Beiers said. “This is one of those strategies to make sure people who appear in the court and who work in the courthouse are safe.”

Mark Hoyne, court operations manager for the Sixth Judicial District in Duluth, cited a 2011 shooting at the Cook County Courthouse as an example of security risks.

Although that shooting didn’t occur in a courtroom, it illustrates the kind of situation that can occur, Hoyne said.
“Throughout the country there’s been an increasing trend of courtroom violence,” he said, adding that bags and other containers are potential hiding places for weapons.

Bans already have been in place for a couple of months in the county courthouses in Virginia and Hibbing with no incidents or complaints,