Judges order clerk to join move
By Joe Gorman
Work continued Friday getting the city’s municipal court ready for the opening of its new facility Monday, including a court order directing the clerk of courts office to have all its materials moved over the weekend.
Judges Elizabeth Kobly and Carla Baldwin issued the order to Clerk of Courts Sarah Brown-Clark, who was balking at the move because of a change of hours in the court in the new building from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. instead of keeping someone in the clerk’s office after regular business hours.
Brown-Clark did not want to comment further Friday because of the court order.
Law Director Jeff Limbian said research he has done shows that Judges Kobly and Baldwin have the authority to set the hours of the court because judges are responsible for the upkeep and security of court buildings, and the judges can set hours as they see necessary for security purposes.
Workers throughout the week have been moving court personnel and equipment, and Friday was no exception, as the courtrooms in the soon-to-be-vacated space on the second floor of City Hall on South Phelps Street were all packed up.
The new facility, in the renovated City Hall Annex at Front and Market streets, will open Monday morning.
For years, two of the court’s former judges – Robert Milich and Robert Douglas – along with Judge Kobly, had been lobbying the city for a new facility.
In 2009, they submitted a judgment ordering former Mayor Jay Williams to find a new facility. The judges also filed a complaint with the state Supreme Court later in the year.
In 2015, a deal finally was struck between the court and the administration of former Mayor John A. McNally to renovate the annex to accommodate the court.
The new building was once a federal post office and home to the local branch of federal court. Renovations on the new space have cost more than $9 million. The city health department will also be moving in at a later date.
The police department wants to take over the space vacated by the courts and clerks office.