Dec 23, 2015
ELKO — After four-and-a-half months of construction, the new justice and municipal courtroom, with adjoining judge’s chambers, is complete.
The new courtroom is on the main floor of the courthouse in room 105 — the former county commission chambers.
“Going online for this courtroom is important to us, because it enables us to get prepared for the addition of a second judge here in about a year or so,” said Judge Mason Simons, explaining this addition allows one of the current basement courtrooms to be turned into office space, as more will be needed when the new judge and bailiff start.
“The courtroom is about 99 percent complete,” said Simons, discussing how the last few details were wrapped up over the weekend, with only one or two small items that still need to be completed.
According to Free Press records, Elko County accepted a bid from Reyman Bros. Construction on July 15. The same company replaced the courthouse windows this year and was the general contractor for this project.
The bid to redesign the former chamber was $159,900.
The project was funded completely by utilizing court facility fees that are used for projects of this nature.
“No general fund dollars were required to complete the project,” said Simons.
The design was completed by Lombard Conrad Architects. The firm is based on Boise, Idaho, with an office located in Elko.
This firm has also been involved in other local projects such as the addition to the jail and the design of the new police station on Silver Street, said Simons.
This project proved to have many moving parts with the demolition of the commission dais, flooring and some walls. Features such as the new judicial chambers, bench and jury box are newly constructed.
The jury box allows the courtroom to be “multi-purpose” and, if necessary, jury trials can be accommodated. However, as there are only two benches for public seating, it can serve as overflow.
“We are grateful for the many hours of work put into this project by Frank Bogue and the other skilled craftsmen at Design Concepts,” said Simons. “The woodwork is beautiful to look at and will last for many decades to come.”
Other contractors for the project included KAP Mechanical, Quantum Electric, State Fire DC Specialties and Desert Design Flooring.
Simons wrote there was critical support from the Elko County Commission, County Manager Rob Stokes, Assistant County Manager Randy Brown, Director of Building and Safety Tom Ingersoll and the staff of the county information technology department.
“We’re really excited for the prospects that it offers us,” he said. “It’s also equipped with some innovative technologies as well.”
The new evidence presentation system is called wePresent, “which allows attorneys and litigants to wirelessly present evidence.”
This will allow them to display photographs and video presentations on a smartphone, tablet or laptop on the two monitors installed in the courtroom.
Those using the system can connect through a Wi-Fi device and enter the code on the display screens into his or her system.
With a mobile phone, there are apps such as MirrorOp Presenter, WebSlides and SidePad that can be used to display evidence such as a photograph of a crime scene.
“We have an audio/video recording system, it’s called JAVS (Jefferson Audio Video Systems), and as they present evidence in the courtroom, it seamlessly becomes part of the records,” said Simons, explaining that if a viewer was to go back and watch the proceedings, the information would be integrated into the video.
During the proceedings, the clerk or judge can decide if it will go into the record.
This will be especially beneficial in an appeals process and to make reviewing the decision and the record “more complete.”
The JAVS system, which is already implemented, has multiple cameras and records the proceedings, automatically switching when a person speaks. Headsets are available with this system amplifying audio to aid the hearing impaired.
This system still allows for the already utilized video conferencing that remotely connects to entities such as the jail and the Washoe County Crime Lab to conduct proceedings.
The justice and municipal court hopes to hold proceedings in the new courtroom this week, said the statement.
There will be an open house in the new courtroom from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 4 with refreshments.
“This project has been a labor of love, and we are very grateful to all involved. The idea of putting a courtroom in this room was originally envisioned by District Judge Andrew Puccinelli some years ago. I am happy that I could play a small part in making his vision a reality,” concluded Simons.