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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ind. Courts - "Plans to renovate Washington Superior Court move forward"

Marcia Walker reported Friday in the Salem Leader - the story begins:

When criminal court takes place in Washington Superior Court on Friday mornings or Monday afternoons, as many as 60 people are jammed into the courtroom. Of those 60, as many as 15 may be prisoners, standing almost elbow to elbow with the public.

Whenever a jury trial is scheduled, the numbers may increase even more. As many as 90 potential jurors may be called before the field is narrowed to 12 jurors and two alternates. Add the parties involved, their attorneys, members of the public and media, and the number squeezed into the courtroom increases even more.

"Our most significant issue is security," said Superior Judge Frank Newkirk. "When we have criminal court here ... we sometimes have 60 or more people in the courtroom and 15 at a time may be prisoners. For one jailer to try to maintain security over that, prisoners mixed in with members of the public, it's not a safe situation at all."

Security is not the only issue; storage is another problem. What once had been a conference room is now used for nothing but storage. Old records have been moved to an off-site location but current files as well as evidence have to be stored on site. Record keeping is a big part of operations at the court.

"That's just the nature of what we do," Newkirk said. "We have to not only keep those things, we have to maintain security over them, protect that information."

But relief may be on the horizon.

During the Tuesday, Dec. 17, meeting of the Washington County Commissioners, the board agreed to spend up to $32,500 to have RQAW draw up specifications and drawings for an addition on the northeast side of the building and renovating the present courtroom area.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 29, 2013 12:01 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts