Courthouse facing overcrowding, handicap facility issues

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The Logan County Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but the historic structure is having a hard time dealing with day-to-day business.

The courthouse, located at 301 E. Harrison, was once the State Capitol when the state seal was stolen and was taken to Oklahoma City on the night of June 11, 1910. However on May 10, 2012 several citizens were forced to stand outside due to space issues.

On the second floor of the 118-year-old building there are two courtrooms and a court clerk’s office. The large courtroom can handle up to 111 occupants according to the Fire Marshall’s sign in front of the double doors while the small courtroom can manage approximately 25 people.

Earlier this month on May 10, a total of 201 misdemeanor cases were on the docket at the same time as a jury trial was in process. Due to space limits, all juror cases must occupy the larger courtroom. With that scenario, that left 201 cases to be heard in a courtroom that may hold up to 25 people.

Citizens were forced to sit outside because of overcrowding inside the Logan County Courthouse. Photo By Tori Jones 05-10-2012

Citizens were forced to wait outside of the courthouse for their case to be heard to avoid packing the courtroom and hallway.

Luckily for those citizens, on that day, the weather was cooperative. No rain, no wind or no snow.

Another issue and perhaps larger issue is the current situation regarding potential  jurors that are handicapped or temporary disabled.

Currently, when jurors are excused to the juror’s room, they are led to a room on the building’s third floor, from inside the large courtroom, up a flight of stairs. However, there is no handicap capability for any prospective juror(s) to reach the juror’s room. A cramped conference room has to suffice in these circumstances, but it does not give the seclusion that jurors need to determine a case. In addition, there are no facilities in the conference quarters, including no water or bathroom.

Each office inside the courthouse has tight working quarters in the court clerk, county clerk, county treasurer and district attorney’s office.

It’s not uncommon to see a bird come flying through the large courtroom as they continue to find ways to enter the building despite many attempts to keep them out.

Some staff members have perfected ways to capture the birds and release them back into their intended environment.

Judges and staff understand there are not a lot of funds to go around to build a new courthouse, but sometime in the future will need to approach county commissioners for ideas, or suggestions on how to fix some of these issues that they are currently being dealt with.

One Response to "Courthouse facing overcrowding, handicap facility issues"

  1. Christy   May 21, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    I think all offices that are not court related ought to be moved out of the court house and into another building. Currently the treasurer and the county clerk are the only offices that are in the building that are not court related. I believe another courtroom on the first floor plus Judges chambers would be a great benefit. I also wonder exactly what the basement is used for now that the jail has been moved next door.

    Reply

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