Courting a solution
Tour of judicial system shows only part of problems
The need for efficient and adequate courtroom space in Benton County is real and remains unchanged after years of discussions among leaders of Benton County government and the judges, clerks and others who administer justice day in and day out. Discussions will continue this year, with a new county judge less likely to build a new, standalone facility near the county jail.
Barry Moehring has focused on keeping the courts downtown, and the Quorum Court, with new members, is still pondering its feedback.
So the Quorum Court took a tour the other night of the county courthouse and two nearby buildings also housing courtrooms and judicial offices, giving justices a chance to see the kinds of security and space challenges that come with a courts system spread around multiple locations and in old buildings. “It’s not right,” Judge Tom Smith said. “It’s not right to ask people to come to a courthouse and have kids and other people under great emotional stress, for a number of reasons, go through this.”
Unfortunately, the tour was late in the day, after the courts were closed, so let’s call it half a tour. Justices of the peace ought to visit again when the courts are in session, when people are struggling to find where they need to be and the hallways are crowded. In other words, go back when the courts are being used. It won’t take long to recognize Benton County hasn’t kept up with its needs.
Some justices say they plan to do just that, and it will no doubt help in future, challenging decisions. With Benton County’s growth, we continue to hope county leaders will solve, rather than patch, the problems with the courts.