A Court on the Move
“I love a good lawsuit. It’s fun.”
“Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.”
For several weeks I planned to write a “Case Study” column for today that announced the juvenile court’s relocation and informed people where to find us after a successful move from our former location at 88 North Sandusky Street, a move that was to be completed today. The fire that destroyed the Little Sheep’s daycare and severely damaged the office building to its north thirteen days ago changed those plans dramatically.
Several media outlets had erroneously reported that the juvenile court was simply going to move into the new space early, but that wasn’t possible as it was still under construction and new furniture had not yet been delivered. Instead, the court operated the past two weeks out of space normally used by the Probate Court, the General Division of the Common Pleas Court, the Commissioner’s Office, the Department of Job and Family Services and the Sheriff’s Office. Nearly every scheduled hearing was conducted.
The “move” finally happened today, but it involved only people since the court’s files, computers, phones, copiers, printers and everything else are offsite being cleaned and repaired from smoke and water damage.
Still, the new space is a marvel. Masterfully designed by Delaware architect Bruce Gardner, the new juvenile court, located in the Rutherford B. Hayes County Administration building simultaneously solves the court’s space needs, addresses the prior building’s security concerns and saves the county money by relocating the court into space already owned by the county. All of these concerns had been raised by Probate/Juvenile Judge Kenneth J. Spicer shortly after his election in 2003 and years of conversations and planning have finally come to fruition.
The construction team from Elford and their subcontractors have been working overtime to get the building finished in time for our relocation. Coordination/construction management on the county side was skillfully handled by county Facilities Director Jon Melvin and the court’s point person, Programs and Facilities Department Head Wendal Horlocker.
Once we open for business in our new space on Monday people will need to know where to go depending on what they’re looking to accomplish. Everyone will now need to enter the Hayes Building through a single-point security entrance on the ground floor, Union Street side of the building. That access is handicap accessible and provides easy access to stairs and elevators.
Those looking to get a marriage license, handle an estate or file for a name change will still need to go to the Probate Court, which moved to the third floor of the Hayes Building in May. The third floor also houses the Juvenile Court’s mediation, victim services, CASA, mentoring and school liaison programs. They’re located in the northeast corner of the building next to the Prosecutor’s office.
On the ground floor of the building you will now find the main court operations including the clerk’s office, intake and fiscal departments and courtrooms. The former Board of Elections doorway is now a direct entrance to the court’s probation department, allowing adults and juveniles appearing to meet with a probation officer, submit to drug testing or complete community service, to enter right into those areas, thereby cutting down traffic into the clerk’s office and waiting room. Prisoners will now be brought into the building through a separate secure entrance, they will be held separately from the general public waiting room and they will be transported to the courtrooms through a secure hallway.
A space that is larger, cleaner, safer and cheaper is hard to argue with. Whether you’re joining us in the building for a juvenile case, a custody matter, a child’s traffic ticket or simply to come in and look around, we hope you’ll like the space too.
David Hejmanowski is a Magistrate and Court Administrator of the Delaware County Juvenile Court and a former Assistant Prosecuting Attorney.