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Judge pulls gun in Florida court

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., March 27 (UPI) -- A Jacksonville, Fla., judge drew his handgun when an accused child molester was attacked by an alleged victim's father in court.

"I didn't know if he was going after me or the bailiffs or the defendant," Circuit Judge John Merrett told The (Jacksonville, Fla.) Times-Union.

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The father, who had not seen the defendant before the court appearance, hurdled a railing and landed several punches on the handcuffed and shackled man before bailiffs restored order.

Merrett said that once he saw the situation was under control, he handed his gun to the court clerk and asked her to lock it in a drawer. Merrett has a concealed weapon permit and said he'd do the same thing again, the newspaper reported.

But Duval County Public Defender Bill White said the incident was frightening. He plans to talk to the chief judge about whether judges should be armed in court.

"It's very disconcerting for a lawyer to be in the line of fire," White told the Times-Union.

The father was charged with felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor battery.

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