OLYMPIA — In her annual state of the judiciary address, Washington State Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Madsen cited the attack on Grays Harbor Superior Court Judge Dave Edwards last March as a reason why courts across the state must do a better job with security.
“No one should be afraid to walk into a courthouse,” she said.
Madsen told a joint session of the state Legislature Wednesday that more must be done with courthouse security.
“As Judge David Edwards of Grays Harbor County can attest, this is a challenge in every local jurisdiction,” Madsen said. “He is a shining example of courage in what can only be described as a terrifying ordeal that occurred in his courthouse.”
Edwards was stabbed after intervening in an attack on Deputy Polly Davin, who was also stabbed and then shot after Stephen Daniel Kravetz stole her gun. Kravetz will stand trial in the coming months for the attacks. The attacks spurred the Grays Harbor County commissioners to hire special courthouse deputies, install a metal detector and x-ray machine and make courthouse security a priority.
“Given Judge Edwards’ experience, the recent attack on Judge Brett Buckley at his home in Olympia, and multiple bomb threats in courthouses throughout Washington just last month, we know that courthouse security is a continuing challenge that needs to be resolved quickly,” Madsen said in her address. One of those bomb threats last month was directed at the Pacific County courthouse. “We are truly blessed that in each situation that I mentioned, there was not a tragic ending. But hoping that this remains the case is not a policy. At a fundamental level, our democracy is dependent on a judicial branch that can decide disputes in safety.”
Madsen notes that last year, the security staff at Spokane County District Court confiscated more than 1,000 handguns, 9,000 knives, 80 tasers, 1,700 razor blades, 1,100 cans of mace, and hundreds of other items that could be used as weapons.
“In courts without security, these items are entering our courthouses every day,” she said. “The reality is that at any given time, people who are charged with violent crimes or who are engaged in intensely emotional situations are all together at the same place. Simply hoping that nothing bad happens is no longer good enough.”