08/17/14 — 1,400 cases heard in courthouse Friday

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1,400 cases heard in courthouse Friday

By John Joyce
Published in News on August 17, 2014 1:50 AM

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K. W. Cooke stands guard at the front door of the Wayne County Courthouse Friday morning. Cooke was one of the additional guards scheduled to ensure the morning was organized.

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A line forms outside of the Wayne County Courthouse on Friday morning. Spectators weren't allowed in the building, leaving friends and family members outside to wait.

Only those with a court date or court business were permitted to enter.

Spectators were asked to wait outside.

Still, by 9 a.m. on Friday, an hour after the Wayne County Courthouse doors opened to the public, the line to get in was still growing rather than shrinking.

By 8:47 a.m., 341 people had already passed through the east entrance of the courthouse.

Eight minutes later, the count was up to 400. A hundred more had come from the west entrance.

More than 1,400 cases were scheduled to be heard in Wayne County District Court on Friday morning.

Despite the huge number of defendants, officials said they were better prepared than for a similar avalanche of cases a few weeks ago.

"We've got it figured out this time I think. We were much better prepared this time around," Wayne County Sheriff Larry Pierce said.

Less than a month ago, 900 cases backed the court system up. Although no major issues were caused, the congestion created a headache for security and the court.

Eight additional deputies were assigned to the courthouse security detail, including helping with the flow of traffic in the parking lot, Pierce said.

He also said a number of people were encouraged to pay their fines early to avoid coming to court, and many had.

Still, the line continued to grow.

A table was set up in the courthouse atrium so those wishing to continue their cases to a later date, if permitted, could sidestep the long lines.

Wayne County Clerk of Courts Pam Minshew manned the desk personally, along with another clerk.

The sound of the metal detectors and the private security officers who man them ushering people through one at a time was almost rhythmic.

"Next," one guard would call as each person passed through.

Should the detector beep, the next sound heard would be the hand-held wand searching the individual more thoroughly.

This was followed by the sounds of their personal effects being slid back to them from the plastic tray, into which they'd dumped the contents of their pockets moments prior.

Beep -- wand -- "Next" -- repeat, and so it went in a seemingly endless succession.