Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Judge pulls gun after attack on defendant

(AP) -- "A Circuit Court judge pulled a handgun in his courtroom after a man jumped a railing and punched a handcuffed defendant accused of molesting his son.

Bailiffs eventually took control of the attacker during Friday's outburst, and Circuit Judge John Merrett handed his gun to a clerk for safekeeping. The judge met with the father in his chambers and later ordered him released without bail, even though he was charged with a felony and two misdemeanors.

The man is not being named to protect the identity of his son.

Merrett said Monday he never put his finger on the trigger or pointed the gun at anyone.

Because of the way his courtroom is configured, the judge said he couldn't see the fight below his bench. He said he pulled the gun as a precaution.

''I didn't know if he was going after me or the bailiffs or the defendant,'' the judge said.

Duval County Public Defender Bill White questioned the safety of allowing judges to carry guns. He said he plans to talk to the chief judge about disarming the judges.

Merrett, who has a license to carry a concealed weapon, committed no crime, State Attorney Harry Shorstein said.

Merrett was presiding over a court hearing for Derrick Kendall McNiel, 21, who has been charged with molesting a child.

A police report said the father landed several punches and threatened to kill McNiel. It took five bailiffs to restore order."

Part of me wants to applaud the judge, but most of me seethes at the fact that only certain people are allowed to protect themselves inside a court of law. Then there's the asshat Public Defender who is TELLING, sniff, on HIM!

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