Judge reverses court gun ban

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By Nathan L. McBroom

Every once in a while, a judge will reconsider his opinion.

That's what Family Court Judge John David Myles did on Tuesday, when he reversed his decision on limiting which on-duty officers could carry firearms into his courtroom.

Previously, only Sheriff's deputies could carry weapons in his court.

Myles said he did this for the safety of everyone in the courtroom.

Local law enforcement disagreed.

Shelbyville Police Chief Bob Schutte said that prohibiting officers from other departments from carrying weapons put them in danger - especially when they are testifying against someone who knows that the officer is unarmed.

Schutte and Shelby County Sheriff Mike Armstrong asked Myles to reconsider his opinion on Sept. 24. Myles said he would. And he did.

In a statement sent to Schutte on Tuesday, Myles said, though he continues to believe that only Sheriff's deputies, he will differ his opinion.

"By copy of this letter, I am informing them that it remains my considered opinion that it is in the best interest of everyone involved that firearms be limited to those specifically charged with keeping order in the Court. However, as KRS 70.140 places that responsibility on them, I will defer to their opinions on the matter."

Myles said it is the sheriff's responsibility in each county to determine who may or may not carry a firearm in family court.

Armstrong said law enforcement officers will be allowed to carry weapons in the court as long as they are not a plaintiff or defendant in the case or have personal ties with anyone who is.

He said most officers understand that if they are not visiting the judge, testifying in front of the court, or fulfilling a subpoena, then they should not take their guns into the courtroom.

Armstrong said if the judge feels that he needs more information about an officer who is there, then deputies will investigate why they are in the courtroom.

"We will be asking why they are there and at that point they will determine if they will be allowed to bring their weapon into the court," he said.

He said in the future officers with firearms might also have to sit in a designated area.

Armstrong said an official policy would soon be written to govern officers carrying weapons in the courtroom.