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Judges Urge Security Overhaul at Civil Court

Official Business

October 03, 1996

A panel of Superior Court judges is calling for a $2.4-million system of alarms, closed-circuit cameras, metal detectors and guards to protect the sprawling downtown Los Angeles civil court building in the wake of a fatal shooting there last year.

Endorsed by a committee of high-ranking Superior Court judges, the plan recommends hiring 43 more security guards. It comes as an increasing number of overflow cases from the criminal courthouse are being funneled to the North Hill Street facility.

"This has been a concern of the Superior Court for a long time," said Presiding Judge Gary Klausner. "What the shooting did was provide visibility as to what the problem was."

Eileen Zelig, 40, was shot by her ex-husband in a second-floor hallway before a hearing on court-ordered spousal and child support.

Judges and officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which is responsible for security in county courthouses, agree that 12 of the building's entrances should be closed. The remaining five should be equipped with X-ray machines and metal detectors. A panel of alarms and closed-circuit television screens in a first-floor command center would allow armed security officers to monitor the corridors and private offices.

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