According to a 2013 report by the National Center for State Courts, violent incidents at state courthouses across the United States have shown a steady increase over the last decade, rising from 19 such incidents in 2005, to 84 in 2012.
Broken down by source, the most common categories were as follows: assailants in divorce cases: 22%; unknown assailants: 15%; “dangerous individuals”(defined as persons having mental health issues and/or no connection to any of the other categories): 14%; on-bond criminal defendants: 12%; prisoner assailants: 12%; “criminal assailants”: 12%; and domestic terrorists: 5%.
Recently, Lisa Frankel, Assistant Regulation Counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court, authored an article explaining the reasons behind Colorado’s courthouse security measures. According to the article, “hundreds” of felony arrests are made in Colorado courthouses every year, including numerous assaults. In addition, security guards have seized “tens of thousands” of contraband items, ranging from pocket knives to firearms.
Attorneys are not immune to the searches and Steven Steadman, Colorado’s Administrator for Judicial Security, states that “[m]ore than one attorney has tried to enter a courthouse with a firearm.”