PORTSMOUTH — “Our world is changing. You never know.” This is a quote posted by Common Pleas Judge Jerry Buckler after a drone was spotted outside his courtroom peeking inside.
After rioters illegally entered the U.S. Capitol, many courthouses and government buildings have been on high alert. Judge Buckler, also shaken by the events that happened in Washington D.C., said he was in the middle of a hearing when a drone hovered outside his courtroom window, causing him to recess the hearing and worry about his safety.
“My courtroom is situated where my back is to the windows in the courtroom,” Buckler said. “That’s the way my desk and bench are situated. In the middle of the hearing, the attorneys are pointing at me because people don’t normally point at me and then they advised me that a drone was literally behind my head.”
Buckler shared the drone was within 3 feet of the windows and with the multiple windows in the courtroom, it kept going back and forth.
“It caused me a little alarm because we had just seen everything that had occurred in Washington D.C., so I recessed my hearing for a little bit and called the courthouse security to put them on alert to find out what was going on,” Buckler explained. “Apparently, they went out and found the person and the only thing I was advised was that this person claimed to be with the local media. I’m not sure what that means, but local media. The security advised them that although it may be OK to take pictures of the courthouse, to get so close to a courtroom may be inappropriate and a violation of some sort.”
Buckler said that he had not had time yet to speak with the prosecutor to see what the regulations are regarding drones this close to a public building, and he intends to do that plus call the local, new sheriff to see what his position was on what happened.
“Having a hearing, dealing with people’s lives in the courtroom and all of a sudden this drone appears, it caused me alarm and when I was off the record and in chambers, the drone kept flying by the windows in my chambers,” Buckler said. “Even later, when my staff and I were having lunch in our little lunch area, it was flying by then. The security official said that they were skeptical of this person that was supposed to be from local media.”
Buckler talked about the idea that if someone wanted to take photos and see how the proceedings in the courtroom happened, they would typically allow that. He said that it would make people be startled with the things going on and that he, too, was startled. He also said that they did later go ahead with the hearing.
When Judge Buckler was asked about things that have occurred in Washington D.C. and his feelings about things there and here in our local government, Buckler said it was a tough question.
“Our country is so divided you never know whether or not you’re safe even when you leave the building. And I’m in a situation where I have to make daily decisions in the lives of families. If I have to remove a child or put someone in jail because of child support, people get angry, so it’s a little bit worrisome about what might be going on,” Buckler said. “Then you see that the center of our government is attacked, so easily you wonder about the Scioto County Courthouse. which isn’t as prominent as the U.S. Capitol, but is the center of our government here in Scioto County if it could so easily be attacked as well. And then, with a drone flying by my window, I was unsure of what it had attached to it, what’s it doing. It all worked together to make me realize that I probably should pause for a little bit not only to protect myself but the people in my courtroom.”
He went on to say that had those things not occurred in Washington, he may have just sat back and thought that it was just someone having fun flying their drone, but once you experience what happened in Washington, you start thinking whether it was light or was it someone trying to wreak havoc.
He also added that because the drone flew so close to the windows, it caused even more concern. That is why he wants to talk to the new Scioto County Sheriff, David Thoroughman, but he feels he did the right thing by taking that recess.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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