After more than 20 years on the first floor of the courthouse and nearly nine months of construction, Spokane County Superior Court Presiding Judge Salvatore Cozza has announced the relocation of the Family Law Center and Guardianship Monitoring Program and the opening of a new courtroom.
The family law courtroom, along with new offices for the three court commissioners, the family law coordinator, court facilitator, guardianship monitoring coordinator, and their employees made the move last week.
The new courtroom and offices were designed and constructed using a combination of State Historical Preservation grant funds and county funds totaling approximately $800,000.
Spokane County received a grant from the Washington State Historic County Courthouse Grant Program for $225,000. Ron Oscarson, county facilities director, submitted the grant after receiving endorsements and approval from the Board of County Commissioners and Superior Court judges.
According to Oscarson, “This is the fourth such grant that Spokane County has received. As a continuation of the courthouse restoration efforts, this project entailed repairing ceiling and flooring structures; repairing damaged walls from penetrations for piping, wiring, and ductwork; modifications to the heating and cooling system to remove deteriorating pipes inside the walls; and the repair and restoration of 1920s vintage wainscoting and ceiling wood trim.
“In addition to resolving the structural concerns in this area of the courthouse, this project also enabled us to continue to improve our customer service by moving and improving an existing courtroom.
The new courtroom is located away from non-court functions, providing more privacy for those attending court,” Oscarson said.
The courtroom is more than twice as large as the previous courtroom, and has been equipped with modern electronic equipment, including digital recording and sound systems, security cameras, and LED lighting. The family law department and its courtroom are across the hall and only steps away from the county Law Library.
This courtroom will house the family law/paternity motion docket calls Monday through Friday as well as the hearings for support modifications, domestic violence/anti-harassment hearings, and guardianship hearings.
Longtime family law attorney Bevan Maxey likes the new courtroom.
“It is fresh and clean and a tremendous improvement over the old courtroom 102,” Maxey said.
Cozza echoed Maxey’s comments and added that the new space is “an improvement in terms of capacity, convenience, safety and the security of our visitors and employees. The remodeled space includes work counters, tables and benches in the hallway, and a roomy reception area inside the main office, thus alleviating the noisy, congested and potentially dangerous environment on the first floor” according to Cozza. “Family law is a very contentious arena and it is not conducive to safety when opposing litigants must sit across from each other as they wait for their cases to be heard. We are extremely happy with the new court commissioner office space and courtroom.”
Ron Miles, court administrator, complimented the efforts of the various departments and personnel involved in making this a successful move. “What is amazing to me is that we lost only one day of operations, when we closed on Wednesday to move office equipment and supplies. Our county’s Information Systems Department, Facilities Department and the family law employees did a fantastic job of ensuring that this very complicated move, involving sophisticated technology, could be accomplished in one day, and allowed us to resume full operations in our new space.”