A judge and court personnel in Bartholomew Superior Court II had a scare when a defendant who had just been sentenced began hurling chairs at them.

Note – the video ratio is stretched in source provided.

The incident happened at about 10 a.m. today when Judge Kathleen “Kitty” Tighe Coriden was sentencing JOrdan Rhoades, 20, 465 Clifty Drive, Columbus for a petition to revoke probation — the individual had arrived very late for his court hearing and was alone in the courtroom with court staff when the incident occurred.

Jordan Rhoades
Jordan Rhoades

After he was sentenced to one year in jail, he returned to the back row of chairs in the courtroom and uttered a vulgarity that could be heard in the courtroom directed at the judge, Coriden said. She then added a 60-day jail sentence for contempt and when he repeatedly uttered it, she added an additional 30-days each time he said it.

Rhoades then stood, picked up a chair and hurled it at the judge, slightly hitting Bartholomew County Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Fisk, and then picked up another chair and threw it at the bench, hitting computers and an area where the court reporter sits, a video of the incident shows. He then threw two more chairs which hit the bench, and then left the courtroom and slouched on a bench there, being watched by courthouse staff.

He then got up and went to the courthouse’s first floor, where he stopped and put his hands behind his back when confronted by a sheriff’s deputy who works the entryway metal detector.

Coriden said there have been incidents like this have happened before and she and the staff simply did what they had to do — moving into the courtroom offices through a door behind the bench and hitting the emergency response alarm which sent sheriff’s deputies to the courthouse to provide assistance.

She was particularly concerned that if the incident had happened an hour earlier, when people were in the visitors area of the courtroom, that there could have been serious injuries.

As sheriff’s deputies investigated the incident, Coriden went to the small claims courtroom nearby and completed initial hearings for jail inmates, she said.

Sheriff Matt Myers said bluntly that the county cannot allow things like this to happen in its courtrooms, and the incident points to a severe lack of funding to provide safety and security in the courthouse, county jail and other county facilities.

“We can’t always be everywhere but we need proper staffing to provide security,” the sheriff said. “It is the sheriff’s responsibility to keep the courtrooms safe and we need the funding to be able to do that.”

Myers said he wants the courthouse safety committee to convene soon to review this incident and determine what additional measures, including increased funding, need to be taken so that the courthouse, courtrooms and staff have proper security.

For more on this story, see Friday’s Republic or click here.

 

 

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.