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People Were Storing Drugs In Those Criminal Courthouse Phone Lockers, Authorities Say

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Mar 22, 2016 9:01PM

Photo credit: Ann Fisher

The Leighton Criminal Court Building at 26th Street and California Avenue is taking its cell phone ban one step further by taking out the lockers at the building entrance for visitors who needed a place to store their phones before they went inside the building. The reason, authorities told the Tribune: some brazen visitors were storing drugs in those lockers.

"Courthouse patrons have placed contraband in them, placing staff members at risk when they engage the individuals about the illegal items," a statement from Chief Judge Tim Evans' office says. Evans called for the ban in 2013 because visitors were using their smartphones to illegally record the court proceedings, and offered the lockers as an option for people who needed to keep their phones with them until they arrived at the courthouse. The lockers, which sit inside the entrance to the courthouse but before visitors must pass through security, will be removed as of April 2, according to his office.

County spokesman Frank Shuftan told the Tribune that courthouse staff have witnessed visitors stowing drugs, drug paraphernalia and weapons in the lockers. Pat Milhizer, a spokesman for Evans' office, also confirmed that some people were storing illegal drugs there as well.

Regardless of what you might be putting in those lockers, it's important to know that you could miss a court proceeding if you try to enter the courthouse on April 2 with a contraband item. As the Tribune cautions, "Those who miss a court hearing could be forced to forfeit bail or even face arrest." Certain authorized visitors such as judges, attorneys, jurors and journalists are exempt from the ban.