SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Victims of violence inside courthouses cannot sue counties and sheriff's departments charged with overseeing those buildings, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday. Public entities in general, the unanimous court ruled, are not liable for failing to protect individuals against crime. In overturning a state appeals court, allowing such lawsuits could expose government agencies to liability on many of their properties, Chief Justice Ronald M. George wrote. "The rule embraced by that court could impose lability for failure to protect persons from third-party crime at any public facility where passions run high, from a crowded office of the Department of Motor Vehicles, to the offices of a child protective services agency," George wrote. Two years ago, a man shot a woman he was accused of sexually assaulting and then killed himself in a Yreka courthouse hallway. In January, a father who may have been despondent about a court ruling on overdue child support killed himself at the entrance of the downtown San Diego County courthouse. Local governments anxiously awaited Monday's decision, fearing the Supreme Court could open a Pandora's box of liability if it sided with the appeals court. "The implications were very scary from the point of view from what potentially could be the scope of liability for municipalities," said attorney Steven J. Renick, who argued the case on behalf of Los Angeles County. "If you basically say anything the government touches creates potential liability, they are going to be liable for everything." Feminist groups decried the ruling, saying women who use the courts for family law matters - such as divorce, child custody and restraining orders - are in danger. "These women are required to go to the courthouse, and this is the only time they'll see their abuser," said LeAnna Gutierrez, an attorney with the California Women's Law Center. "They're required to face the abuser and the state has no actual duty to protect them while they're there." The case stems from a 1995 courthouse slaying of a woman inside the downtown Los Angeles County courthouse, which is now called the Stanley Mosk Courthouse. Eileen Zelig, 40, who said she lived in mortal terror of her ex-husband, was killed when Harry Zelig shot her in the chest after a divorce proceeding in which he said she was trying to seize his car. The couple's 6-year-old daughter was seen shrieking in distress after the shooting as bystanders raced for cover. The husband was later convicted and sentenced to 29 years to life. In obtaining a restraining order, the woman had filed court papers five months before, describing herself as "sick with fear" of her ex-husband. She had notified the bailiff who had searched the husband for weapons at one court appearance. A state appeals court said counties owe "a duty to take reasonable steps to provide safe courthouses to those who enter." The decision cleared the way for the daughter and her siblings to sue Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for wrongful death and other actions. But the Supreme Court reversed course. "The danger faced by Eileen that her husband would shoot her was the same inside the courthouse as outside," George wrote. The courthouse installed metal detectors in 1999, four years after the shooting. Most of the state's large, metropolitan courthouses run such security checks. The Supreme Court, which is based in San Francisco, requires onlookers to go through metal detectors twice, once when entering the building and again before being seated in its courtroom. But, because of budgetary constraints, many of California's small town or outlaying courthouses do not have such security measures. The case decided Monday is Zelig v. Los Angels County, S081791. I guess you can't protect yourself in the PRK, typical.