3 Security Rules to Know in the 4th Circuit

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on March 24, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Planning on visiting a federal courthouse anytime soon? Get ready for a good pat down. Courts across the country are beefing up their security and getting in to see a judge these days can require just about as much security screening as flying to Jordan.

Getting held up in security can throw a serious wrench into your day, whether you're present simply to attend arguments or arguing before a judge. Pay attention to these three security rules to know so you don't get caught off guard when walking up the courtroom steps.

1. Leave Your Guns, Pies and Letter Openers at Home

Sorry hungry open carry fans, the Fourth Circuit federal courthouses don't allow food or firearms through their doors. Weapons like knifes and pepper spray are similarly disallowed, as are "weaponish" objects: letter openers, screw drivers, scissors and the like. If you shouldn't be running with it, don't take it to court.

2. Get Ready to Disconnect

For the general public, electronic devices aren't allowed through the courthouse doors, so get ready to leave your phone behind or store it in the court's storage cabinets -- at your own risk, of course.

Attorneys are allowed to bring in phones, laptops, pagers and the like, so long as the devices aren't solely for recording -- no cameras allowed. Be prepared to keep your gadgets off, though. Electronic devices aren't allowed to be used in any courtroom or chambers, unless they are being used as part of a presentation during oral arguments. While wireless is available, it's not widespread. You'll find it in the court library and nowhere else.

3. Be Prepared to Wait

The Fourth Circuit courthouse, as well as district courthouses, require visitors to pass through a metal detector. Bags, purses and such are x-rayed. If you're laden down with loose change, heavy jewelry, or giant belt buckles, you'll need to remove them. If there's a large crowd entering the court at once, the scanning process can slow you down, so allot some extra time for your arrival.

Have any hints or tips for visiting a court in the Fourth Circuit? Let us know at Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals).

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