A citizens group that monitors juvenile court hearings is taking issue at what happened Wednesday in a Douglas County Courtroom.
Laura McCormick is the executive director of the Nebraska Sunshine Project, an organization that seeks judicial accountability involving the juvenile court system.
McCormick says on Wednesday they were attending a proceeding with Juvenile Court Judge Elizabeth Crnkovich. One member of their group arrived a few minutes late and had been listening to a radio with an ear bud prior to entering the courtroom. McCormick says a prosecutor brought it to the attention of a judge that someone was there to record information. The group was then ordered to leave.
McCormick says, “Judge Crnkovich then became very angry. Her face turned red and she admonished us all and told us to leave. She pushed the panic button. We were sort of what do we do? One of our members said we should just stay there. At that point oddly enough the judge said the hearing was adjourned. We got up to leave and all of a sudden the court proceeding continued on even though the judge said on the record the proceeding had been adjourned.”
McCormick says a Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy then entered the courtroom and said there was nothing he could do because the judge had pushed the panic button. She adds that the deputy was very respectful to the group. McCormick says the group was gathered in the lobby and was told to leave because they were loitering.
There is an open court rule in Nebraska but the judge has authority over the court. Nebraska Sunshine Project is protesting in front of the Douglas County Courthouse today.