EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - The Vanderburgh County Courts Building is always busy. The number of judges and magistrates has increased, and so has their caseload.
Now, there is no space left to keep up with the growth. We are learning brand new information about a possible solution.
The Courts Building was built 50 years ago when there were just three judges. Come July, there will be 17.
With limited options to re-arrange the space inside, judges are getting creative and have come up with a plan to shift offices to old buildings and add courtrooms.
“If we don’t have the physical facilities so they can do their job, we haven’t really gained anything,” says Vanderburgh Superior Court Judge Leslie Shively.
Judge Shively tells us modifications could be a long-time coming to the courts building. He expects they could offer some relief to the overcrowded jail.
“If we can move more criminal cases in a given day, that means less people that have to be housed at the jail," explains Judge Shively. "We can move cases along. Rather than having just one session in Superior Court in the morning, we can have maybe two or three, but we need facilities to do that.”
Judge Shively and Vanderburgh Circuit Court Judge David Kiely have a plan to make the second floor strictly court rooms and judges facilities by moving the Clerk’s Office to the Old Jail in the connected Civic Center.
“The Clerk’s Office relocation is going to have to be the first step in the program because we can’t start converting that space into courtrooms until we have them relocated,” says Judge Shively.
They would like to move low-security civil cases to an Old Courthouse courtroom. Right now, both spaces are being paid for to sit empty.
“We’re probably maxed out at this point,” says Judge Shively.
Shively says they get through working in tight quarters because the hardworking, dedicated staff pulls their weight and is flexible about sharing courtrooms. Of course, these plans are preliminary.
Shively says county leaders are on-board and focused on what the county can realistically afford.
Applications were due May 15 for the new magistrate starting in July. At last check, 18 people applied.
Judge Shively says they are still trying to figure out where to fit the new magistrate’s office.