New courthouse to open soon

By Jim Shannon - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Hundreds of people visit the 19th Judicial District Courthouse every day for everything from traffic court to more serious legal issues. Soon the new courthouse will open its doors.

The last week in October is the moving date for the 19th Judicial District Court. Everything from the grand jury to traffic court will take the short walk from St. Louis Street to North Boulevard.

"That gives us a five day window which is why we selected that time frame," said 19th Judicial Court Judge Janice Clark.

The building features state of the art jail facilities that can accommodate up to 150 prisoners in high security. And unlike the current facility, the inmates will no longer be walking down the same hallways as the general public.

"We're prepared to move the Sheriff first to secure the building. Then the Clerk of Court to organize the files and court records then the court move should be methodical," added Clark

Skipper Post is the building architect. He says the biggest challenge was to maximize every square inch of space. "We needed to get four courtrooms per floor and to get four courtrooms per floor meant we took every square inch of site available," said Post.

The first two floors is what most of the public will see. Dearman's Restaurant got the contract to run a cafe on the first floor. The tenth floor features a stand alone courtroom that can be used by any of the judges for big cases.

The murder case against Greg Harris is scheduled to be heard in that courtroom. Harris is accused of killing his wife who was a high profile attorney named Chaquita Tate. And while justice is the role of the building it is a site to see.

"You got such a view of the city. The whole north side overlooks the city in a most magnificent way," added Post.

The ten story building cost $110 million.

If you look at the front of the new courthouse, you will notice the flag pole is a little off-center. It actually lines up exactly with the front door of the State Capitol.

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