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Home / Commentary / PROPERTY LINES BLOG: Blind justice at the courthouse

PROPERTY LINES BLOG: Blind justice at the courthouse

The lights in the Milwaukee County Safety Building went out at 9:42 a.m. Wednesday.

I know, because the stopped clock was one of the few things I could see clearly for the half-hour I hung around waiting for the power to come back.

I was waiting on a hearing, and the courts had just reopened for business after a weekend fire knocked out the courthouse’s electrical system.

Part of the courthouse will reopen Monday, but crews are still working to clean some of the lower floors. In the meantime, criminal hearings are shifted to other areas of the complex.

Chief Judge Jeffrey Kremers told me they’re prioritizing the criminal cases out of consideration for defendants in jail and for victims of crimes. Civil cases, he said, will just have to wait.

But the hiccup Wednesday morning meant I was waiting anyway.

I could see the judge cocked back in his chair, chatting with attorneys, but with the microphones down, I couldn’t follow the conversation.

I could see bailiffs milling about in the gloom, but with the computers down they couldn’t answer my questions about the day’s schedule.

But when I opened the door to leave the courtroom, I couldn’t see the police dog lurking in the gloom. The German shepherd loomed up out of the shadows, startling me into believing I had broken some law and would soon be detained.

A police officer quickly tugged on the leash, and the dog, which was nearly as tall as I am, looked friendly enough after my heart stopped racing.

But I’ve now decided a courtroom is no place to be when you can’t see.

Staff writer Beth Kevit writes her Property Lines blog for The Daily Reporter and Wisconsin Law Journal. Read more at dailyreporter.com/propertylines

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