Region 8 County Needs More Room For Court

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) -- There is confusion in the courtroom in one Region 8 county.

"People that are charged come from other counties and states and their lawyers come from other counties who have reserved that day for their court and don't get to come up here and have court because it's full," said Lawrence County Quorum Court member Jim Jones.

"Four judges come here on a regular basis to hold court, so we've got a traffic jam," said Lawrence County Judge Alex Latham.

Because Circuit Court cases trump District Court those cases are often caught off guard.

"On those days he has District Court, he could have as many as 100 or 150 people waiting for court and we don't have a space available for the judge so we've got lawyers witnesses and subjects that want to come here for court but don't have a place to go to," said Jones.

The four judges do work very well together to make sure their schedules mesh and do not over lap, but that can sometimes be impossible.

"We sat down with the Circuit Judges and the District Judge to find out what their needs were and we decided how much money we had to spend for this project and tried to put some plans together based on this," said Jones.

Lawrence is one of the few county courthouses in Region 8 that has just one courtroom, and the Quorum Court is working on getting a new courtroom built.  Blueprints have already been drawn up for the addition, which will be built at the back of the courthouse.

The county has already taken one round of bids and is about to start taking more because the first bids came in too high.

Judge Latham said he has estimated the cost to build the new courtroom at around $300,000.  He hopes they can break ground on this project by this spring.