New Municipal Courthouse gains much-needed space

EVERETT — It’s like the leap from the telegraph to an iPhone.

That’s how one local attorney described the difference between the old Everett Municipal Courthouse and the shiny, new building, which opened its doors for business earlier this month.

“It’s that big of an improvement,” Marysville attorney Brian Ashbach said. “It’s probably the nicest courthouse I’ve been in in a long time.”

Everett Municipal Court Judge Timothy O’Dell called the new courthouse beautiful and “something the city should be proud of.”

“Nobody wanted to spend this kind of money, but this is something that had to be done,” O’Dell said.

Replacing the municipal court had been subject to much debate over the years. City officials had floated more than a dozen proposals to move or rebuild the courthouse.

Located at the corner of Wetmore and Pacific avenues, the busy city courthouse had grown more cramped as the number of cases the court handles ballooned. In 2009, the last year statistics were available, the court processed 5,800 criminal filings, such as DUIs, domestic violence assault and prostitution. There also were about 11,000 traffic infractions and 25,000 parking tickets.

Courtrooms often were so jam-packed that people stood outside in the hall, waiting for judges to call their names. With no place for private conversations, lawyers found themselves conferring with their clients in hushed voices in any available nook and cranny.

“It was like a madhouse,” Ashbach said.

Judges often had to stop hearings as the overcrowded courtrooms grew too loud for officials to hear what was being said.

The court was limited to one jury trial a day because there was only one cramped jury deliberation room.

The City Council in 2011 approved a construction contract to rebuild the courthouse just northwest of the old building. Workers broke ground in September 2011 on the $8.35 million project. Court staff began moving into the new building Dec. 14.

The 17,000-square-foot new courthouse is three times larger than the old building. Eventually, all court employees will be working out of the new building.

There are two 100-person courtrooms, more than doubling the capacity of the old courtrooms.

“We don’t have people sitting on top of each other and jockeying for space,” O’Dell said. “These courtrooms are more than adequate.”

And technology finally has arrived.

There are flat-screen televisions so lawyers can show videos and exhibits during trials or evidence hearings. The new courthouse has the capacity to have arraignments via video for defendants booked in the jail. The judges have been holding those hearings at the jail, which has meant shuffling lots of files and people back and forth.

City officials also say they have made security improvements with cameras and updated metal detectors. There also are secured entrances for inmates and holding cells.

There are two jury-deliberation rooms and private conference rooms, where attorneys can meet with their clients.

Already, court hearings are moving along at a faster pace, O’Dell said.

“I think we’re going to see more efficiency,” he said.

Eventually, the old building will be torn down for the new probation wing and courtyard. That phase of the project is expected to be finished in the spring.

The municipal court property housed several different commercial and government businesses before being converted into a court. Part of the land was used for a restaurant called Sadie’s Grill in the 1940s. Other offices followed in the 1950s. They were used for government programs, lawyers’ offices and insurance sales.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Families begin relocating from public housing complex

Baker Heights is in need of repairs deemed to costly to make, and will be demolished and replaced.

Trail work by juvenile offenders builds resumes, confidence

Kayak Point trails were built out this year by groups from Denney Juvenile Justice Center.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Distress beacon leads rescuers to Pacific Crest Trail hikers

Two men in their 20s had encountered snow and waited two nights for a helicopter rescue.

Volunteers clean up homeless camp infested with garbage

The organization’s founder used to live and do drugs in the same woods.

Everett mayoral campaign is one of the priciest ever

Many campaign donors are giving to both Cassie Franklin and Judy Tuohy.

Arrests made in robbery-turned fatal Everett shooting

A man, 24, and woman, 18, were found at a hotel in Seattle.

Boeing marks the start of 777X production at Paine Field

It took tax breaks and union concessions to land assembly of the company’s new jetliner in Everett.

3 fire departments seek levies to support emergency services

District 25 in Oso is hoping to pass its first fire levy in 22 years.

Most Read