Immediately on the heels of the Great Rat Snake Crisis of '08, visitors to the CJC were greeted this morning with the SECOND sign that the CJC Apocalypse is upon us.
The first sign that something new was wrong was that the line to reach the elevator bank was backed up all the way to the metal detectors in the foyer, which, in turn, created a back up well out the door of the CJC. There were also fire trucks in front of the building.
Um, okay, on second thought, the lines to the elevator backing up to the metal detectors and the presence of fire trucks in front of the building are actually pretty typical of any day at the CJC. Defendants do love to exercise their God-given right to pull the fire alarms in the hallway, unfortunately.
But today, as it turns out, the presence of the fire department was actually necessary!
In the early morning hours today, a small, accidental fire broke out in one of the offices surrounding the 183rd District Court on the 18th floor of the building. In one of the few moments of something in the CJC working like it was supposed to, the fire extinguisher sprinklers burst into action, and successfully put out the fire.
Now, here's where the real trouble started. Apparently, whoever was in charge of monitoring the alarms (and whatever else) for the CJC noted that the sprinkler system had deployed.
Did they notify the Fire Department? Nope.
They called a plumber. Seriously.
By the time the sprinklers were shut off, they had been running for a good hour and a half.
As Tropical Storm Allison proved to us all that you can flood out the CJC from the ground floor, the 183rd sprinkler system has now proven to us that the CJC can also be flooded from the top, as well. The sprinkler water ran through the building and stairwells all the way down to the 8th floor of the building.
As a consequence, the jail elevators which are used to bring the prisoners up to the courtroom were closed for service until they could be deemed safe for use again. The only in-custody defendants who were actually brought to court were those in a trial. To say the least, the court dockets were more or less brought to a stand-still.
It was kind of like a Snow Day from when we were in school.
To make matters worse, around 11:30 a.m., one of the Defendants indulged himself to a good old pull on the fire alarm again. Normally, these alarms are widely ignored by anyone who knows the CJC. However, in light of there being an actual fire this morning, the courts were all ordered to evacuate.
It was quite an incredible pain in the butt.
There's never a dull moment at the CJC.