Court­ing a so­lu­tion

Tour of ju­di­cial sys­tem shows only part of prob­lems

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

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.

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