Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Offices in Courthouse Sought for New Judges Mayor to Address Overcrowding

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Offices in Courthouse Sought for New Judges Mayor to Address Overcrowding

Article excerpt

With the Florida Legislature's approval of two new judges for the area, officials at the Duval County Courthouse will soon be looking for office space in an already cramped courthouse.

While judges say the new positions will help relieve heavy caseloads, they bring with them a dilemma: Where will they go?

Officials hope to get some answers to the crowding problem at the Duval County Courthouse in September when a consultant releases his study of the seven-story building.

Built in the 1950s, the waterfront structure houses Jacksonville's judiciary, the State Attorney's Office and the Clerk of Courts Office.

Office space is available for the new county judge, but not the new circuit judge, who will be appointed first.

The biggest need, however, is for courtroom space.

"My problem is we're running out of courtrooms," said Chief Circuit Judge Donald R. Moran Jr.

In addition to the judiciary, the clerk's office also is cramped for space.

"What little [space] we have is not conducive for doing the business of the clerk's office," said Clerk of Courts Henry Cook. "We have to put tax deeds in a spot where they really shouldn't be. We've just had to move everything around."

Mayor John Delaney, a former prosecutor, has spoken about the possibility of creating a criminal justice complex that would include the present courthouse, the City Hall Annex and possibly a new building.

Susan Wiles, the mayor's chief of staff, said Delaney is aware of the new judgeships and is making the crowding situation at the courthouse a priority.

"His own background in the court system makes him acutely aware of the needs," Wiles said. "He knows that with the addition of two new judges coming on line and the growth of the community and thereby the criminal justice activities, that there are issues that need to be addressed. …

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