By Matt Davis, The Lens staff writer
The city has until Friday to reach a deal with Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman over security at the Criminal District Courthouse, or Gusman could still yank his sheriff’s deputies and cause the building’s closure, The Lens has learned.
Visitors to the building at Tulane Avenue and Broad Street could be forgiven for thinking that the city’s deal struck with Gusman last week, to continue providing courthouse security, was permanent.
But it turns out that the deal is only good until the end of this week, a spokesman for Mayor Mitch Landrieu wrote in an e-mail this evening.
“In the interest of maintaining services and providing a safe environment in which to conduct the business of the court, the city has agreed to pay for the security services for this and last week while a more sustainable agreement can be achieved,” Ryan Berni wrote.
Gusman appeared ready to make good on a threat to pull some of his deputies from the courthouse last week, unless the city paid his office an extra $500,000. Criminal District Court Chief Judge Julian Parker threatened to close the courthouse if Gusman stopped providing security, but a spokeswoman for Parker said Friday that a deal had been reached.
Spokeswoman Margaret Dubuisson said this morning that the deal was not permanent. Dubuisson said the dispute is between the city and Gusman’s office, but that the judges are committed to keeping the courthouse open as long as there is security for the front entrance.
“It will take all hands on deck and all budgets to solve this problem,” Berni wrote. “We are working closely with the sheriff’s office to determine security cost needs for the remainder of the year.”
It’s not clear whether Gusman’s threat to remove courthouse security still stands, if a longer-term deal isn’t reached with the city by Friday.
Gusman’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.