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Five threatening phone calls Friday shut down Connecticut’s judicial system and triggered evacuations and bomb sweeps at every courthouse in the state. Public Safety Commissioner Leonard Boyle said the state decided to close all 45 courthouses after the bomb threats were received at the governor’s office and elsewhere around 10 a.m. State officials said they respond to about 400 such calls a year but have never shut down all Connecticut courthouses. “The calls were not specific as to particular courthouses, which of course compounded the problem,” Boyle said. “The calls simply stated that bombs had been placed in courthouses, or one call I believe said ‘judicial buildings’ in the state of Connecticut.” Connecticut’s judicial branch has 83 facilities; 45 include courtrooms. Ten teams of officers and bomb-sniffing dogs were expected to finish searching all the courthouses late Friday or early Saturday, state police said. No bombs had been found as of 8 p.m. State police would not elaborate on the threats, saying the content of the calls will be kept confidential until the investigation is complete. One of the telephone threats was made about 10 a.m. on a constituent phone line answered by a staff member in Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s office, gubernatorial spokesman David Dearborn said. Criminal defense attorney William Gerace was in Danielson Superior Court on routine business when it was evacuated before noon. “At first they told us we’d be back in momentarily,” Gerace said. “Then we heard a rumor there was a bomb threat. I started looking at my clients suspiciously, but they all swore they didn’t do it. We all stood around outside in the cold for an hour and a half.” Chief State’s Attorney Christopher Morano said officials tried to balance the need to finish court business with the threat to public safety in deciding when to close the buildings. “There are certain arraignments that need to be held within certain time periods and that is the major concern,” he said. “There are other speedy trial issues that might come up, but primarily we want to make sure that the conveyor belt of justice keeps moving and that timelines are met that are set forth in state law and our constitution.” Morano said it’s not uncommon to have a courthouse close down and that there are precedents for dealing with delayed cases. In addition to criminal charges, the state will seek restitution for the money spent responding to the bomb threats from anyone arrested, Morano said. State police were working with SBC and the FBI to trace the calls, Boyle said. Federal courts in Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford were also swept, but those courthouses remained open. The state Supreme Court was evacuated. Larry Mozzicato, who runs a food truck outside Hartford Superior Court, said the threat ruined his lunch business. “People were coming out saying there was a bomb threat,” he said. “Whenever there is a bomb threat, they never stop.” Associated Press Writer Lara Jakes Jordan in Washington, Jim Kevlin in Hartford and Matt Apuzzo in New Haven contributed to this report. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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