Inside Story: Judges Keep Arrival Times Secret - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: General Sessions Court

Inside Story: Judges Keep Arrival Times Secret

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From Phil Williams:

It was an investigation that outraged a lot of people -- especially people who've had to wait hours for one of Nashville's General Sessions judges to show up.

We watched as one of those judges, Judge Gloria Dumas, repeatedly arrived at the courthouse garage late -- sometimes as much as an hour and a half late.
 
So how often are those judges late? Well, there's a good way to find out. But the judges are making sure you never see it.
 
It turns out, every time the judges pull into their garage, a security system records their names and times of arrival.
 
But when I asked to see those records, the judges said "no."
 
Their attorney wrote, "Should a person intent on harming a judge desire to gain entry, knowing the time any judge generally enters or leaves the garage would provide that person a greater opportunity to gain access to the facility."
 
Never mind that we didn't have any trouble figuring out when the judges generally show up for work.
 
We also offered to let the judges leave out any judge who could cite a specific threat.
 
They still said "no."
 
And a court public-relations person sided with us.
 
She wrote, "Judges drive around with judicial plates and that is a far greater concern to me than saying ... when they arrive or leave.... [I]f we deny him the records, I'm afraid there will be the appearance that something is wrong."
 
But the judges ignored her advice -- and they're apparently working to make it even harder to track their comings and goings.
 
"Is there a way for future to have us listed by number and not by name?" one judge asked.
 
A court administrator replied, "I'm working on a fix for the future."
 
That administrator also urged the judges to stop discussing the issue by email.
 
His big fear: their email "might be the next open records request."
 
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