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Courtroom Tips for Your Clients: Leave the Gun at Home

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on August 11, 2016 1:58 PM

Prepping clients for their day in court often involves keeping them calm and focused on the big picture. Occasionally, you'll need to instruct clients on a few more basic matters as well: where to sit, how to address the judge, what to wear, and so forth. But here's some advice we you might want to add: leave your loaded guns at home.

A Sacramento man could have benefited from that counsel earlier this week. Terry Sosnowski was arrested at the Sacramento County courthouse earlier this week, after he arrived to court with a loaded weapon tucked away in his bag.

Bringing the Wrong Bag to Court

Sosnowski, who faces charges of felony auto theft and possessing a stolen vehicle, was scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Monday, but he didn't seem to make his court date. As Sosnowski was entering the courthouse, the Sacramento Bee reports, deputies spotted a loaded firearm in his bag, as he passed it through the court's X-ray scanner. Sosnowski now faces an additional set of possible charges: felony counts of carrying a loaded fire arm in a public place.

Sosnowski told deputies that he simply forgot that he had a firearm in his bag, according to the Bee. It almost seems like a likely explanation, too. It's either that or Sosnowski doesn't know how X-rays work.

Guns in Court

Of course, many people who appear in court with weapons are more malicious than simply boneheaded. Last month, two court bailiffs were killed after a suspect grabbed a gun from a deputy and opened fire. Larry Darnell Gordon, the Michigan shooter, may have been improperly restrained when he stole a gun from a deputy, allowing him to kill two bailiffs and take several people hostage, in what has been called a "brazen courthouse escape attempt."

And it's not just those facing charges who sometimes turn violent in court. Twenty-four years ago, a Texas defense attorney snuck a semiautomatic weapon into a courthouse and killed two people. That event helped inspire many courts to adopt stricter safety measures, to catch weapons before they get through the courthouse doors.

And plenty of weapons are caught that way. Last summer, the Birmingham News reported that a more than 900 weapons were confiscated at court checkpoints, including three guns, in a single month.

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