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Clerk involved in courthouse scuffle

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, “the clerk of each court is charged with the custody, safekeeping and proper indexing of legal and quasi-legal papers deposited in his office.”

Suffolk’s Clerk of Circuit Court, W. Randolph Carter, Jr., had an on-the-job experience Tuesday morning that fell well outside that description.

At approximately 11:30 a.m., Carter was in the law library of the Godwin Courts Building talking with a lawyer when he heard scuffling and raised voices in the hallway.

“There was one man with three women around him,” Carter said, describing a fist fight that had started outside the courtroom. “One of them had a lawyer and he was trying to break it up.”

Carter was able to pull one of the women away from the other three and hold her against a wall until deputies were called out into the hall.

“It started well away from the courtroom,” Carter said. “It’s probably 100 to 150 feet from the courtroom to the library, so it was well down the hall.

“Pretty quickly there were five or six sheriff’s deputies.

Once they got there they stopped everything pretty quick.

“One of the deputies came in and took the woman I had, then they escorted each of them out of the building.”

According to Carter, a divorce hearing had been ongoing in the courtroom prior to the fight in the hall.

The building was cleared.

After that, everyone was brought back in and proceedings continued as normal, Carter said.

“As far as I know, no one was led away in handcuffs,” Carter said.

Carter, who has been clerk of Circuit Court for two years and worked in the office of the Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney 17 years prior to that, said he had never been directly involved in such an incident.

By jumping into the fray, Carter suffered a skinned knee, and according to Suffolk Sheriff Raleigh Isaacs, “wants to know if this qualified him to be a bailiff.”

Carter did not know if any of the four people involved in the fight were injured, but, “I did see a tuft of hair on the floor in the hall, and it could not have been from the man because he was bald.”