Wednesday, November 10, 2004

There's a Crook at the Federal Court's Security Checkpoint

When the Checkpoint is no longer secure. The U.S. District Court and the federal building in San Juan have a security checkpoint at the entrance, manned by so called CSO's ("Court Security Officers"). Now, much to my regret, I have discovered there is a thief among the CSO's. The other day I entered to attend a Pretrial Conference and had to leave my cell phone at the entrance, since while the Court allows Assistant US Attorneys to take cell phones into the courthouse area, it does not allow any other attorneys to do so. It is a Motorola flip phone that comes with a leather belt case. I left it with the belt case. When I came out of the conference, I picked up my phone from the checkpoint and, as I was going to put it on my belt, I noticed that someone had removed the phone from the case because the antenna was now facing in the wrong direction (the case is designed for the antenna to face forward when placed on your belt, and it was now facing backwards). Obviously someone had taken my phone out of the case (which was wrong in and of itself), and I mentioned as much to two CSO's who gave responses that lead me to believe they may have known more than they were letting on. I then removed the phone from the case and opened it and turned it on just to make sure it was my phone, which it was, and then left for home.

As I was sitting at the dining table and had removed the case with the phone from my belt, I noticed that the case felt soft, not like the harder, sturdier leather case I had on my phone and, upon inspecting it closer, was 100% certain it was not the case for my phone. Someone had changed my leather case for a vinyl one that looks almost identical but is not 20% as good, on top of the fact that the vinyl one I had been left with was worn out.

Yesterday I informed the CSO's supervisor, and then went to make a formal complaint with the U.S. Marshal himself, and was told that he would investigate and get to the bottom of this. It is not so much the value of the case, as the thought that someone who was such a petty thief and so dishonest would even be allowed to work there that upset me. I clerked many years back for the then Chief Judge in this district and this sort of thing would never be allowed to happen without serious consequences. I hope if they do get to the bottom of this that the perosn responsible gets fired. That may sound harsh but the person deserves it, for violating the trust placed in him. There's plenty of decent and qualified persons without a job or with jobs that pay less, for a petty thief to continue on this one.

And I will never again leave my cell phone at the courthouse entrance. I will turn it off completely before entering, but will not leave it under the control of persons prone to thievery.