|Published: 9:30 AM, 10/11/2012
Author: Rick Hooper
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
NEWPORT-Those involved with court cases in Cocke County
could soon find themselves on the outside looking in...literally.
Because of a city and state fire marshal inspection of
the Cocke County Courthouse recently, limits have been placed on the number of
people who can be in the respective courtrooms and hallways during court
As a result, the county is looking at options for a
holding area to avoid future violations.
"We have criminal court and the grand jury meeting
at the same time later this month," General Sessions Court Judge John Bell
told members of the Finance Committee on Tuesday. "Unless we do something,
there will be violations at that time and the owner of the building is
"A violation is a Class B misdemeanor that carries a
penalty of six months in jail and a $500 fine. It would be the CLB members, the
county mayor or both that would be responsible."
Judge Bell said several issues cited by the fire marshals
are being addressed, including courtroom doors, additional exits and postings
to prevent overcrowding.
"I'm allowed 49 people in my courtroom," said
Bell. "Our bailiffs won't let more than 49 in there. We need overtime for
the bailiffs and clerks and we need to hire a bailiff between now and Oct.
"We may have to put a tent outside with a heater in
it. I know it sounds funny but it's not. That's where we're at if something
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