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Emergency Preparedness Summit Shares Lessons Learned

  • RCT Closing

    The Judiciary's first multi-district, interagency workshop on emergency preparedness was the brainchild of Judge Richard C. Tallman of the Ninth Circuit, who worked with Melissa Muir, Director of Administrative Services in the Western District of Washington, and Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshall Ray Fleck to plan the summit in Seattle, Washington.

  • Group 19th Floor 1

    The opening plenary session drew approximately 70 participants from four judicial districts: the Eastern District of Michigan, the Southern District of Iowa, the Middle District of Louisiana, and the Western District of Washington.

  • Judge Pro Las Vegas 1

    Judge Philip Pro of the District of Nevada discussed the tragic 2010 incident at the Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse in Las Vegas, Nevada, in which a Court Security Officer was killed and a Deputy U.S. Marshal wounded by an assailant.

  • Team Michigan 1

    Discussion sessions were an opportunity for key players from multiple agencies to learn from their own and others’ experiences, and to share ideas and resources on emergency preparedness.

  • MJP Opening

    Chief Judge Pechman of the Western District of Washington talked about lessons learned from multiple active shooter incidents over her 25 years on the state and federal bench, including an incident at the Seattle Courthouse in 2005.

  • Judge Gonzalez 1

    Judge Irma E. Gonzalez from the Southern District of California discussed the impact on staff and the court of a series of incidents, including the 2007 California wildfires, a 2008 courthouse bombing, and the 2011 blackout.

  • Judge Reade 1

    Chief Judge Linda Reade from the Northern District of Iowa talked about the impact in 2008 when much of downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa, flooded, closing the district and bankruptcy courts. Thanks to good emergency planning both courts were operational in temporary facilities within days.

  • Karen Milton 9-11

    Karen Milton, Circuit Executive for the Second Circuit, talked about how emergency preparedness has changed since 9-11. “Consider your human plan...and how employees are doing after a tragedy,” Milton urged participants.

  • DC COOP book

    With key decision-makers at the same table, participants spent time reviewing and improving their own Occupant Emergency Plans and Continuity of Operations Plans.

  • Judge King Katrina

    Judge Carolyn Dineen King of the Fifth Circuit spoke about the lessons learned in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, In 2002, the Fifth Circuit was one the the first of the circuits to initiate an intensive examination of its readiness in the face of a disaster. As King said then, "The practical and moral responsibility for these buildings and their occupants lies with us."

The Western District of Washington hosted a multi-district, multi-agency emergency preparedness summit this summer, bringing together representatives from the federal courts, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Marshals Service, and other government agencies. Representatives from the Eastern District of Michigan, the Southern District of Iowa, the Middle District of Louisiana, and the Western District of Washington participated.

Many of the judges and court staff who spoke at the workshop had first-hand experience of natural and man-made disasters, providing "lessons learned" for the group in the ways their courts coped with disasters. With those lessons in mind, participants spent time reviewing their Occupant Emergency Plans and Continuity of Operations Plans.

The take-home message from the workshop: learn to coordinate court and court-related agencies, sharing ideas and resources, for an optimal response in any emergency.