These are badly needed, but the real problem is that the whole court system is a train wreck and only good, smart, fair minded judges can fix it, and THERE ARE NOT NEARLY ENOUGH OF THOSE!
Another serious problem is that it is nearly impossible to successfully sue any judge … so they get lazy and sloppy … or worse!
Excerpts from the Article:
There’s $50 million in Gov. John Carney’s proposed capital budget to begin building two new Family Court facilities, pending approval by the General Assembly.
The new court buildings would be constructed in Dover and Georgetown, near current facilities that have been deemed antiquated, unsafe and cramped by the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts.
The proposed buildings were part of Gov. Carney’s overall fiscal year 2022 budget recommendation unveiled Thursday, and construction at the Sussex County site in Georgetown could begin as early as this summer and last two years, Delaware Office of Management and Budget Director Cerron Cade said.
According to Family Court Chief Judge Michael K. Newell, “We are pleased that the governor has included in his recommended budget funding for new Family Court facilities in Kent and Sussex (counties). We are optimistic that the General Assembly will support this important project. New Family Court courthouses in Georgetown and Dover are critically needed. The current Family Court facilities in both counties are inadequate, unsafe and undignified.
“The funding included in the governor’s recommended budget will allow us to begin to replace these outdated buildings with expertly designed courthouses to enable the citizens of Delaware to have some of the most intimate matters that affect families and children addressed in a safe and appropriate setting.”
Building of the new Kent County Family Court in Dover would follow at an undetermined point, Mr. Cade said, and have a 2.5-year timeline. More funding for the projects will be requested as needed, Office of the Courts spokesman Sean O’Sullivan said Thursday.
The Office of the Courts compiled a proposal fact sheet in February, which detailed the need for a new facility in Georgetown compared to the current court that was built in 1988. Mr. O’Sullivan said Thursday that many of the same drawbacks exist in Dover, where the court was constructed in 1989.
While courtrooms in New Castle County’s Wilmington location average 1,100 square feet, the space in Georgetown is around 600 per courtroom. There’s no public lobby before the security checkpoint, which Mr. O’Sullivan described as cramped.
The Sussex County building measures 31,000 square feet, while the Dover facility is 35,000.
There were 117,625 people who entered the Kent County Family Court in 2019, while 116,220 people entered in Sussex County, the Office of the Courts said, noting that numbers were drastically reduced in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
A rendering of the planned Sussex County Family Court building in Georgetown. (Submitted photo/Delaware Administrative Office of the Courts)
The Sussex County Family Court would be located on the southeast corner of Race and Market streets, across Race Street from the current courthouse. The area is currently occupied by court/state offices, along with private tenants.
The new Kent County Family Court is tentatively set for the intersection of South Governors Avenue and Water Street.
Other issues in Kent County and Sussex County, according to the Office of the Courts, include:
• No public lobby before the security checkpoint.
• Cramped existing security checkpoint.
• Small waiting area/lobby that does not allow sufficient separation of parties or allow sufficiently private conversations between litigants and their attorneys.
• No workspace for prosecutors, defense attorneys, child advocates or other stakeholders/companion agencies.
• No separate hallways/elevator for prisoner transfers (meaning they move through the same hallways as used by staff and judges).
• Existing holding cells do not allow for meaningful male/female or adult/child separation.
• Since the existing Family Court facilities were opened, caseloads have nearly doubled, and jurisdictions have expanded.
• The existing facilities have been documented as being deficient in meeting modern safety and security standards.
New facility proposals include:
• At least eight courtrooms in each facility, averaging between 1,400 and 1,800 square feet per courtroom. The additional space would make the courtrooms safer and more dignified for litigants, court staff and other participants, as it allows for additional separation between opposing parties.
• New facilities would have workspaces for the Department of Justice, the Office of Defense Services, the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, the Division of Child Support Services, the Office of the Child Advocate and domestic violence advocates. Additionally, both facilities will have courtrooms for Justice of the Peace Courts.
• The design has not been finalized, but it is estimated that the facilities would be approximately 100,000 square feet each, allowing for larger courtrooms; a larger, more secure lobby, security checkpoint and holding area; and additional workspace for court staff and stakeholders.
• Each of the sites of the new Family Courts have space for an additional two courtrooms for future expansion.
The Whole Story: