Monday, December 17, 2007

Akron Judges get news to build on

Maybe the phrase should be: "If you build it ... they will be very, very happy!"

Akron municipal judges have been asking for this for some time now ... and now it appears they'll get their wish. The City of Akron will spend some money next year to research, plan, and design a stand-alone courthouse for the municipal court. Currently, the judges share space on the 7th, 8th, and 9th floors of the Stubbs Justice Center, which is better known as the Akron Police Department.

Here's a note I got from Chuck Heimbaugh confirming the news:

"The proposed 2008 Capital Investment and Community Development Program was presented to the Akron Planning Commission on 12/14/07. The proposed budget included the project: 'Municipal Court/Justice Learning Center.' The project is budgeted at $1,500,000 from fees collected by the Municipal Court. The project description is: 'Plans for construction of stand alone municipal court. Recommended by Ohio Supreme Court in 2006. Construction
scheduled for 2009.'"

City judges have long since complained about a lack of adequate space and deteriorating conditions. Leaky roofs and inadequate amenities for those with special needs are also high on their lists. Also, police officers providing court security were sometimes pulled in multiple directions; one judge told me that suspects in orange jumpsuits were sometimes left sitting alone with her in the courtroom .. and no one else around.

Deep down, the judges just wanted their own place ... and now, it appears it's on the way.

The Cuyahoga Falls Municipal Court Judges were in a similar position and are taking their show on the road to Stow. Now, Akron's black robes can follow suit.

The move makes a lot of sense .. especially when it comes to arraignments, where a long back hallway is often crowded with attorneys and court officers trying to do business. Attorneys also have no place to talk privately with their clients; one judge even told me that lawyers sometimes have to deliver tough, tearful news to their clients in front of the general public.

The big question now is where to put a new courthouse. Ideally, it'd be best to keep it close to its current location to make it easier on police, prosecutors, and attorneys to do business.


Anonymous said...

Eric - That Building downtown is a disaster and I'm sure the judges have been embarrassed to be there for a long time - I know they've spoken out before - it's about time the City listened. Kudos to the Mayor for seeing the necessity of this project.

Akron Municipal Court said...

Good to see the judges have something to hope for. Regular people spend lots of time worrying about the lives of judges. They have it so much harder than the rest of us, with all that pressure and power and all that. So much easier to be a criminal after all. Like that Bengal guy Henry. I'm sure he sympathizes. Has he ever been in Akron Municipal Court? He's been in more courts than most people. :-)