Pulaski Council, Commissioners, Sheriff Discuss Moving Circuit Court to Justice Center

Discussion continues about moving Pulaski Circuit Court out of the County Courthouse and into the Justice Center. The move is seen as a cheaper alternative to installing and staffing a security checkpoint in the courthouse.

But beyond that, Sheriff Jeff Richwine says it will eliminate the need for jail staff to transport inmates across the street for court. “This is a huge risk,” he told the county council and commissioners Monday. “I know the circuit court’s judge doesn’t recognize that, but I don’t think he looks at what a jailer does for the county, as far as moving these people around all the time. We’ve got people coming down here that are sentenced to life in prison with no way to ever get out, that we have to bring down here for a five-minute hearing on child custody.”

The sheriff said moving circuit court to the justice center would solve those problems. “The elevator’s already set up,” Richwine said. “They come out of the back. They jump on the elevator. They go up. This is how it works for Superior Court. There’s a holding cell right there. When the judge is ready for them, they come in. They do their thing. They go back, go right back down the elevator and back in their cell.”

Richwine and Commissioner Mike McClure have come up with a preliminary plan to place Circuit Court on the upper floor of the Justice Center, after Judge Michael Shurn said he didn’t want to be put in the basement, as originally proposed. Meanwhile, Commissioner Kenny Becker said that if Circuit Court moves to the Justice Center, Clerk Christi Hoffa wants to move her office there, as well. McClure said there should be enough space, but several offices would have to be moved around, which could be expensive if the dispatch center ends up moving.

McClure also raised the possibility of moving even more county offices into the Justice Center in the future. “There’s also two or three wings we could add onto that building without new sewer, new water, or anything. The electric would already be there,” he explained. “And then you could put about everybody in here over there. What you didn’t put in there, you could send out to the County Highway Garage or over to the Annex Building.”

No official action was taken on the idea of moving Circuit Court, but Council President Jay Sullivan recommended that the commissioners discuss it with Maintenance Supervisor Jeff Johnston, and possibly hire someone to come up with a layout.