The Big Kahuna To Judges: You’re Not Special Either

At Fault Lines, Nebraska Senior District Court Judge Richard Kopf wrote of a state judge who refuses to allow testifying cop to wear their guns in court.

Since 2003, when he took the bench, Judge Jim Gleason has told cops that when they testify, the officers cannot carry a gun into his courtroom. He reasons that there are security risks and that a testifying witness carrying a gun can prejudice a jury. He notes that security is provided by armed county sheriffs. Now, all of a sudden, the cops have rebelled.

The cops didn’t like the order. They don’t like taking orders. Who does? But it’s the judge’s courtroom, and he gets to make the rules.

Whether you agree or disagree with the judge on cops packing heat when they testify, I hope every experienced lawyer (and judge) understands that a presiding judge must ultimately have the power to regulate his or her own courtroom when it comes to how witnesses must behave when they testify.

Greg Prickett understood the reason for the cops rebellion, and the reason why it was difficult for a judge, particularly one who strongly favors the police, to appreciate the core of the dispute.

Your honor, you don’t understand cops on one, major issue.

They have to be in control. Always. Even in your courtroom.

The message here is that while a cop may give the appearance of ceding control to the judge, it’s a pretense, a ruse to pacify the judge, stay on his good side, while giving nothing away.

Then came the smack.

Courtrooms are completely safe all the time. Never has there been an attack in such a safe environment. Even if there was a threat, highly trained court deputies that know all about court security would spring into action, not some untrained bumbling city police officer! Good to see a judge with no law enforcement training making sound tactical decisions. Wonder what would have happened to this judge if the same protocols were in place?

The stench of this proto-typical snark screamed dumbass street cop, full of his awesome authority and reeking of disdain for anyone, judge included, who would question it. Nobody knows but a cop. And under the ‘nym of Kahuna, he was free to smack at will. Cowards always feel that way.

When he was called out, Kahuna went through the usual infantile excuses as if nobody could figure his rationalization out, but got a bit more serious, ableit with a curious informality, like a teenager trying to prove his maturity to a grown-up. The crux of his lengthy comment is that he would comply with the judge’s order, but the judge was still wrong. Cops know best. Better than court officers. Better than judges. When it comes to having a gun, cops win.

Again the judge is the judge and can do as he wishes, but to shroud this issue in the sense of it being a control issue or machismo issued for the officers not being allowed to carry their duty weapons is misleading. What next? No armed officers can enter a school, a hospital, a church? Where does it end? Just sad when the people making the decisions or comments don’t have a day of real world experience in the job.

After Greg called bullshit on pretty much everything Kahuna had to say, things start to get interesting:

You start to make a point about Judge Kopf, but then instantly loose me with your terminology “being concerned about an armed officer popping a cap into a defendant”. “Popping a cap” really? Your tone is hostile and gives me the impression you’re painting an officer as a “thug” with a gun. To me this gives a bit of a glimpse into your bias which I find surprising coming from a former law enforcement officer.

Greg I don’t know you, but based on your pedigree (as provided by Judge Kopf) I have to say I’m a bit shocked at your demeanor here. I know posting text sometimes looses a lot in translation and tone, but overall the impression you give me is you have a great disdain for law enforcement officers who in your view (at least this is the vibe you’re giving out) need to be slapped down a few notches and put in their place. You seem to be painting with a pretty broad brush and making a lot of generalized assumptions that police officers are upset because they’re being told they can’t do something and “too bad!” since the judge can tell them whatever he wants.

To Kahuna, Greg broke the rules, that a cop, even a former one, doesn’t challenge another cop. Greg must have a malevolent motive (or be a former mid-level supervisor, which reveals another subtext message) to do so.

Throughout, Kahuna is smart enough to claim that while the judges are clueless, and cops have magical powers that no one else possesses, he would do as the judge ordered, no matter how wrong the judge was.  But that’s to Judge Kopf’s face, and to say otherwise would be say “fuck you” to a cop ally in the courtroom. He’s smart enough not to screw with someone who does the cops’ bidding.

On Glocktalk, some cops didn’t find this to be a big deal at all. For others, however, there’s no such need to maintain the ruse.

Our county juvenile court is like that. Must lockup our duty guns. Needless to say, we’re all concealing backups.

Judge Kopf is adept at connecting dots, so I’m confident that he read the subtext message from Kahuna. But for any judge who might miss the point, police officers don’t love you as much as you love them. They may feign respect, but you’re just some clueless “power tripping” moron in a robe.  And they will call you “yer honor” to your face, and something far less respectful behind your back.

Most importantly, they will appear to accede to your order to play their game in your courtroom, but check their ankle for the gun they didn’t give up. Just as they’ve been lying to us all along, they’re lying to you as well. You’re not special.

21 thoughts on “The Big Kahuna To Judges: You’re Not Special Either

  1. Ehud Gavron

    Great writeup (as usual).

    The comment about a mid-level supervisor may be a reference to a part of the quote that is not provided… as there’s no prior (nor subsequent) such reference in the text.

    Cheers and good morning,


    1. SHG Post author

      My working model is to only quote as much as needed to make a point, but I include links so that any reader can verify my source material. It allows anyone who wants to know whether my reference is real or contrived to check it out. But it’s there is you want to check.

      That said, Kahuna’s comments were long and tedious, and would have added a lot of words to this post that would have made it far too long for most people to tolerate. But here’s the quote:

      As for Greg’s CV. Greg does sound like a very experienced and well educated former police officer / supervisor. You are correct in saying our views are quite different. The impression I get from Greg is he (and I say this without knowing him and it’s only the impression he gives and may be the furthest from the truth) is a former supervisor who probably had his fair share of encounters with sub-par police officers.

      At some point when many officers get promoted to higher ranks, some begin to believe everyone beneath them are some how trying to scam the systems or get away with things. In some instances these officers who are actually bad and who should be dismissed are able to get away with bad deeds do to strong union representation, labor laws, or other barriers. If I had to bet money, I would guess Greg did not retire as a first line supervisor (like a Sgt.). My gut (and again I could be wrong) points more toward a Lt. or other mid manager rank.

      Hope that does it for you.

      1. Greg Prickett

        I retired as a Sergeant. I consider that to be the best job in law enforcement.

        I was much to frank, and absolutely no interest in political niceties to make lieutenant or other command staff rank.

        I had the privilege of working with a great number of very good officer and very few sub-standard ones. My greatest difficulty was in dealing with the brass and some of their ideas.

      2. Mort

        At some point when many officers get promoted to higher ranks, some begin to believe everyone beneath them are some how trying to scam the systems or get away with things.

        That “higher rank” being “patrolman”…

        Oh. Wait. He meant believing other cops were beneath them, not us poor slobs amongst the citizenry…

  2. DaveL

    Once again, I have to wonder whether police stations contain portals to an alternate dimension, such that the streets patrolled by police are not the same streets traveled by civilians, where judges haven’t seen what goes on in the mean courtrooms of the US District Court for the District of Nebraska.

  3. PaulaMarie Susi

    I had a similar issue years (and years) ago with an FBI agent who refused to surrender his weapon (I didn’t even want to know how he got into the building with it, but this was the ’90s). After instructing him twice to go to the Marshals and secure it, I was informed that an FBI agent “never relinquishes his weapon, under any circumstances”. Silly me. He was a bit shocked when, courtesy of my Marshals, he was: frisked, relieved of said weapon, handcuffed, and brought to the pens. To, you know, think. When the AUSA wanted to know where his trial witness was, I sent him to the pens. And, I’ve never had that problem again.

    1. SHG Post author

      I bet you didn’t get invited to the FBI Christmas party that year. I hear they throw great parties, though I wouldn’t personally know since I’ve haven’t gotten an invite since Louie Freeh resigned.

  4. Richard G. Kopf


    Your post has put me in danger. I think you knew it would.

    Out here, where men are men and heifers are nervous, you are likely to be beaten badly if you are outed as being weirdly naive and girlishly innocent. In fact, such a freak is likely to end up face down in the sawdust that covers every decent barroom floor while reasonably menacing women, wearing large belt buckles, laugh until tears mess up their heavy mascara. After that, such a hopeless case (me, according to your nasty post) must stumble to his rusted out 1991 Chevy-S10 pickup (which can cause the second ass-kicking) in order to merely go home and sob into your lacy pillow.

    I hope you are happy.

    All the best.


    *Please don’t start bragging about your John Deere Gator while belittling me even further with snide comments about my John Deere 300 riding lawn mower with a cushy seat cushion. I can take only so much humiliation.

    1. SHG Post author

      I bet you have one of those big round buckles somewhere in the back of the closet. With turquoise. Am I right?

  5. John Barleycorn

    You should really consider selling some of these connect the dots and then paint by numbers masterpieces you create esteemed one.

  6. KP

    Why would a cop ever like or respect a judge?? Cops have the criminal right there, they know he’s guilty or they wouldn’t have arrested him, and then some Judge gets him off through a jury.

    If judges are not the enemy, they’re certainly rubbing some cops up the wrong way every time there’s an aquittal or a low sentence.

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