I meant to write about the fire alarm that occurred at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center last week, but things got a little busy for me, hence I am just getting round to it now. Unfortunately, fire alarms are not treated the same as they were when I was kid. When a fire alarm went off in my school it allowed the students to socialize while everything was sorted. Today, they are treated much more seriously. Anyone that frequents the Justice Center knows that a fire in that building would be a disaster. Nevertheless, fire alarms go off so often that most courthouse regulars ignore them.
For the first time last week I was in a court that took the fire alarm seriously. The judge ordered everyone to clear the courtroom as the loud speaker instructed. The speaker system told everyone to proceed to the nearest exit by the staircase. The confusion by the non lawyers of not knowing where to go was predictable because the staircase is not marked, hidden from the public. Eventually, the attorneys were able to escort the defendant's, and their family members to the staircase. Once the judge joined us she was adamant that everyone needed to walk down the stairs to the exit on the first floor that was twelve floors down. Clearly, the judge was wrong since everyone was in agreement that we were instructed to stay by the exit. Since she was the judge everyone listened to her and went down the stairs. On the other hand, I made the conscious decision to stay put, check out what the other courtrooms, judges, were doing. Not suprisingly, the other courts were either ignoring the alarm or standing by the exiit waiting for the next set of instructions.
My point for writing this blog is to state the obvious...judges can be wrong just like everyone else. The judge truly believed she heard the instructions stated differently then anyone else. Everyone followed her like sheep because she was the judge.