Doors open to new Portsmouth judicial center


Posted on September 24, 2012 at 9:50 AM

Updated Monday, Sep 24 at 6:41 PM

PORTSMOUTH -- Monday's official opening of the new Portsmouth Judicial Center went off with only minor glitches.

Instead of the courtroom dockets popping up on electronic screens, staff had to print them out so people knew which court room to go.

Pretty minor compared to the asbestos problems and roof leaks that would actually shut court down for the day in the old complex built in 1970.

"Well we really love the new facility, it’s spacious, it’s clean, it doesn’t leak, and we really like that," says Clerk of Court Cynthia Morrison.

Morrison says in the old building some records were kept in the basement which flooded during storms, making it impossible for her staff to retreive files that a judge might need during a case.

"The people are just going to be more comfortable here," says circuit court judge James Cales who started working in Portsmouth in 1968 as an assistant prosecutor.  Starting Monday he's worked in 3 Portsmouth courthouses, but he likes this one the best.

"I think we have the best court house in maybe the state, certainly Hampton Roads," says judge Cales.

One of the key features of the Center is that is houses all 3 major courts: Circuit, General District, and Junvenile and Domestic Relations.  There are now secured entrances for judges and separate hallways for transporting inmates.

Courtrooms are larger in some cases and all wired with numerous computer screens to view electronic documents in some court cases.

Morrison says tax payers should be pleased with what they got for $78 million.

"They will see that they now have a building that should last them for the next 60-70 years before they have to even think about any kind of replacement," says Morrison,  "And anything that comes in ahead of schedule and under budget is a good thing."