Out of an abundance of caution over concern for employee safety, the 19th Judicial District Courthouse in downtown Baton Rouge closed at noon Friday in the wake of the police officer-involved shooting of Alton Sterling earlier in the week and with more protests planned Friday in the city already on edge.
The closure also affects East Baton Rouge Parish Family Court and East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court offices housed in the courthouse.
William Morvant, the 19th JDC’s chief judge, said the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, which provides security in the courthouse and also has offices in the building, requested the early closure.
“They expressed some concern not knowing how big this would be,” Morvant said of the protests and marches planned in the city.
“It’s been peaceful and quiet all week, but when I’m requested by law enforcement (to close the courthouse early) for the safety of the employees and the security of the building, I’m going to honor that request,” he added.
Morvant said the last thing he wants to do is jeopardize the safety of employees in the courthouse.
The judge noted that no specific threats had been made against the courthouse.
The order Morvant signed shortly before noon says he was acting in accordance with the state Constitution and the inherent power of the court, “and considering the emergency created by concern for employee safety.”