Secured double doors at the south interior of the Regional Justice Center have been broken for weeks, allowing unfettered access to judges’ chambers throughout the 17-story courthouse, the Las Vegas Review-Journal has learned.
While the doors themselves open and close properly, an alarm that is supposed to sound when they are opened without authorization from a security card is broken.
Court administrators have known of the “intermittent” problem for three months, they said in a statement. “Clark County Real Property Management, the division responsible for building maintenance, was immediately notified of the issues,” the statement said.
The statement, released through a spokeswoman Friday afternoon, noted that the doors will be replaced, though no time for the fix was given.
After a request for comment from the Review-Journal, court administration said late Friday that security located at the nearby loading dock had been adjusted “to monitor both doors or an additional security guard will be stationed to secure the doors” if they do not function properly in the future.
Without security, the doors could be accessed by any of the 8,000 people who visit the courthouse daily. The doors lead directly to two Las Vegas justices of the peace chambers on the first floor, William Kephart and Janiece Marshall.
The doors also lead to an elevator that goes to secured levels of the courthouse for Supreme Court justices, District Court judges, other Las Vegas justices of the peace and Las Vegas Municipal Court judges and their staff. While the elevator is also protected by a functioning secured door, that door is often left open, as observed by a Review-Journal reporter.
Security concerns at the courthouse reached a boiling point last week after judges and the public learned that Justice of the Peace Eric Goodman may have been attacked Dec. 15 while jogging at a Summerlin Park earlier this month.
While Las Vegas police don’t yet know what caused Goodman to suffer a severe head injury — he also may have fallen or suffered a medical episode — investigators have not ruled out the possibility that he was targeted and attacked.
Police said they did not tell judges about what happened to Goodman for nearly two weeks because they were not sure if it was the result of a crime.
Security concerns have been an ongoing issue at the Regional Justice Center in recent years.
In 2010, the Clark County Commission approved spending $60,000 to correct flaws in the camera system at the Regional Justice Center.
The money was used to install nine exterior cameras to make up for blind spots.
The camera issue came to light after a Review-Journal story revealed obstructions to cameras outside the main entrance and at a parking lot across the street from a private rear entrance.
In 2012, the County Commission authorized the hiring of eight new court marshals because there were not enough to staff security scanners at the entrances to the courthouse, creating lengthy lines for courthouse visitors, jurors and lawyers.
The Regional Justice Center opened in October 2005 but was designed before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. After the attacks, the nation became more vigilant about protecting public buildings.
Las Vegas Justice Court, Municipal Court, District Court and the Nevada Supreme Court all are housed in the building. So are the offices of the city attorney and district attorney.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review journal.com or 702-380-1039.