Size of new courtroom concerns officials

Published: Monday, June 9, 2014 at 11:51 AM.

Among the solutions being considered is maximizing the seating in the new room and adding a television screen in the courtroom lobby that would display the calendar and give court officials an opportunity to announce upcoming cases. Bottorff said that a sheltered area at the rear entrance to the building was being considered so that overflow crowds are not forced to stand in the rain.

Lewis said that part of the discussion also involved the possibility of reducing case load by adding another court date in Havelock each month.

Bottorff said that making sure that court proceedings can still be held in Havelock is a priority. He said having court in Havelock instead of New Bern saves time and money for defendants, witnesses and members of the Havelock Police Department who may have to testify in cases.

“I think everybody involved wants this to work,” he said. “What we’re trying to look at is options to make this as palatable as possible.”

Chief District Judge Walter Mills met with District Attorney Scott Thomas, Havelock Mayor Will Lewis, Commissioner Jim Stuart and Havelock city manager Frank Bottorff on May 28 to express concerns about the size of the new court facilities now under construction.

He said in the original plans for the building, just 54 seats were available in the room, but city officials worked to increase it to 84.

“On the original drawing 54 was the number of seats, and now they are saying the capacity is going to be about 84 which is good news. It’s bigger than we thought,” Bottorff said.

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