Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Justice Must Be Served Soon, Moran Says; Company Doing New Tests That Could Allow Courthouse Opening Next Week

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Justice Must Be Served Soon, Moran Says; Company Doing New Tests That Could Allow Courthouse Opening Next Week

Article excerpt

Byline: Timothy J. Gibbons and Steve Patterson

The wheels of justice need to start rolling again soon, said Chief Judge Donald Moran, and the judiciary cannot wait past the end of next week to begin operations at the new courthouse.

Thursday night, the company building the courthouse planned to conduct another test of the fire alarm and suppression system - a six- to eight-hour project - that could allow things to begin moving along.

If that test works, it will have to be replicated with an independent engineer on site to confirm the system is in good shape. If the system fails, the engineers will have to reassess the situation.

"They think they have a solution," Fire Chief Martin Senterfitt said of Turner Construction's testing plans. "We're cautious about it because we're getting down to the wire, and I don't know how much faith I'm going to put into the statement. I need to see results."

Without those results, Senterfitt said, the building can't be issued a required certificate of occupancy.

No matter what happens, though, the judges have to be back at work no later than the end of next week, Moran said, and even that's pushing it.

"There's a lot of things that go on in a courthouse," he said, from changing child support payments to criminal hearings. "Ninety thousand people a month go through the courthouse, and to keep it closed would be very burdensome."

He'd hold off on beginning work if given assurances that the repairs being made would be done in a matter of days, he said. If it's expected to take longer, proceedings will have to begin in the new courthouse, at least on a limited basis.

Throughout the day Thursday, workers continued to move in everything the courts needs to operate. That work is slated to be wrapped up by Monday, with the new courthouse's scheduled opening set for Tuesday.

Moran said he would not bring the judges back to their old home, an idea that had been bruited about in the past few days.

"There's no way we're going back to that old building," Moran said. …

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