Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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October 23, 2013

Court complaint affects courthouse

Corsicana — For a couple of hours Wednesday afternoon, visitors to the Navarro County Courthouse found locked doors at all but one entrance — the result of a court order by District Judge James Lagomarsino.

Access to the courthouse was restricted to the basement handicapped entrance at the northwest corner of the building. The entrance was manned with sheriff's deputies and courthouse personnel, and visitors were required to pass through a metal detector, said Navarro County Sheriff Elmer Tanner.

Tanner said he was notified by the judge's office about 2 p.m. Wednesday to restrict entry to a single door for the duration of a sexual assault trial currently underway in the 13th District Courtroom.

Another ruling by Lagomarsino later Wednesday afternoon lifted that order, and instead extra security was ordered outside the second-floor district courtroom.

The problem that caused the temporary closure of several entrances, though, had nothing to do with anything that happened inside the courtroom.

The decision to restrict entrance to a single door came after Assistant District Attorney Andrew Wolf complained to Lagomarsino about prosecution and defense witnesses sitting in the same area outside the courtroom, waiting to testify. The court is hearing the trial of John Parnell, accussed of sexual assault of a child. Prosecutors were expected to wrap up their case Wednesday. Michael Crawford is the defense attorney of record in the case.

Lagomarsino issued the single-entry order as a result of that complaint, initially to be in effect for the duration of the trial that started on Monday. The judge declined to comment on the specific reason for the move because the trial was ongoing.

Tanner said sheriff's deputies assisted courthouse security personnel in closing the three upstairs and two basement entrances that were ordered closed by the court's order.

Tanner said he knew of no specific threat that prompted the lockdown of the additional entrances, but said he did not believe there was any threat to the public as a result of the order.

Navarro County Elections Administrator Danda Parker said early voting in the courthouse basement would continue as scheduled.

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Bob Belcher may be reached by email at bbelcher@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

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