Packing Heat in Harris Courts
Harris County DA asks for AG's opinion on whether he can stop his prosecutors from taking a gun to court
By Richard Whittaker,
4:27PM, Mon. Aug. 25, 2008
Anyone know whether it's legal to wear a flack jacket to court? Harris County District Attorney Kenneth Magidson is requesting an attorney general's opinion on whether he's allowed to tell his staff they can't take a handgun to court with them.
After the 2007 legislature basically said that prosecutors with concealed handgun permits could take them pretty much anywhere, Magidson's office reformed its operations manual to fit the new rules. Now it allows staff members with a concealed handgun permit to bring their weapon to the DA's office and "common areas of county buildings other than correctional facilities." If it's not on their person, the gun has to be locked away out of sight, and it can't be taken into the courtroom without "the express written permission of the district attorney." Now one of his own prosecutors is claiming that (surprise, surprise) this is unconstitutional, so Magidson wants clarification.
In his supporting brief, Magidson wrote, "The attorney general should conclude that a district may lawfully and constitutionally prohibit prosecutors with concealed handgun licenses from carrying firearms in courtrooms." He argues that ADAs are at-will employees of the prosecutor, and like any employee they have to follow the company rules. No letter from the boss, no taking a gun to court.
Newsdesk expects their Christmas party may be awkward this year.