The 10.9 million-dollar project to combine the Superior and Circuit Court to form the Cheshire County Courthouse is finally complete in 2014. This development has been long awaited since the previous space rented for the District Court was deemed inadequate by the state of New Hampshire five years ago. We are not sure why the Cheshire County was the last county out of this region to make these improvements. Needless to say the court system is extremely important and always evolving.
This constant momentum should be circulating with building renovations as well. The state should not have to threaten the county to shape up it’s courthouses.
The Cheshire County received a push from the state when they threatened to force both courthouses out of downtown or the city altogether because of poor conditions, according to David S. Forrest, a Family District Court Judge who spoke with The Equinox reporter Alison Rancourt.
Pressure from the state influenced the location and public accessibility of the building but also posed threat to the city economically. In order to keep the mission of the N.H. Judicial Branch, each county must stay up-to-date.
The N.H. Judicial Branch mission states, “To preserve the rule of law and protect the rights and liberties guaranteed by the United States and New Hampshire Constitutions, the courts will provide accessible, prompt, and efficient forums for the fair and independent administration of justice, with respect for the dignity of all we serve,” according to courts.state.nh.us. To uphold this mission, a courthouse must be accessible and efficient.
This new building now provides space for the creation of the Family Division. Prior to having the Family Division, family cases were held in Superior Court. The Family Division is a part of the Circuit Court with two other divisions, the Probate Division and the District Division.
By combining the Superior and Circuit Court into one building Cheshire County is upholding the N.H. Judicial Branch’s goal. It only makes sense to have all the courtrooms in one building.
City Manager, John MacLean, said it is much more valuable to have a client come to one location where they can access legal records and a law library. Having all the courts in one building is beneficial to all-especially court staff and the public.
There should be no confusion when trying to find which courtroom one is looking for. Having to jump around the city wasn’t working, and the City Hall now gains an entire floor of space back. This combination has been overdue and we are pleased with the progressive move.