Tulsa County Courthouse leaders are working to make courtrooms safer after they said a murder defendant assaulted a prosecutor.
Presiding Judge William Musseman said he wants people to understand the courtrooms at Tulsa County are safe. He said it's very rare for a defendant to actually act out and hurt anyone, but regardless, they're taking the situation very seriously.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray ended up in the hospital in November after he said the man he was prosecuting for murder smashed a water pitcher over his head.
Judge Musseman said he's seen attacks like that one less than a handful of times in his 20 years at the Tulsa County Courthouse.
"It's not brand new, but yes, it's surprising to hear," he said.
Musseman said after the incident, he immediately started working with the district attorney, the sheriff, and his judges to figure out what needs to be done moving forward.
"I don't believe there's a simple fix," he said. "It is a process that requires everyone's attention to detail in every single case."
Musseman said they've tossed around different ideas, like turning the tables side-by-side instead of having defendants sitting behind their prosecutors, or even building some sort of physical barrier between them.
Because the courtrooms in Tulsa County come in different shapes and sizes, Musseman said it's something they're handling on a case-by-case basis.
"What might work in my courtroom might not work just seven steps down the hall," he said.
Musseman said state statutes prevent court guards from handcuffing or restraining defendants in front of their jury.
"Where we probably could do better is identifying those who might be a risk," he said.
But Musseman wants to reassure people that the courthouse is a safe place, and they're working to make it even safer.
"To my knowledge, it's never happened with a spectator, it's never happened with a witness, and it's never happened with a juror," he said.