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County tries to find judge room

March 25, 2001

County tries to find judge room

By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A year after the Berkeley County commissioners learned they would be getting a fourth Circuit Court judge, they are still trying to find a permanent office and courtroom for him.

Judge Gray Silver III has been using his former law office on Burke and Maple streets as his judicial office. The county is paying him $700 for that space.

Silver has also been using the county Planning Commission hearing room several blocks away as his courtroom.

The commissioners said Thursday they are trying to find quarters for Silver, but cost issues have limited what they can do.

The plan had been to locate him in the building on King and Spring streets that houses the Family Law Masters and the Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

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"We determined that renovating that space would cost about $300,000," said County Commission President Howard Strauss. "We're trying to find a space at the least expense to the taxpayers."

The most recent idea is to move Silver to an abandoned courtroom in the building at 802 S. Queen St. that now houses the Sheriff's Department and the Office of Emergency Services.

Strauss said Silver has been working cooperatively with the county to try to solve the problem.

"Given that we've known about this for the past year, he could be screaming for a new courtroom now," Strauss said.

Silver could not be reached for comment.

Strauss said the Berkeley County Circuit Court judges have been patient about the situation because they know the commissioners are working on plans for a new judicial center, probably on King Street across from the courthouse complex. The county is jammed for space and many employees are working in old buildings with bad air, leaky roofs, sewer gas and other problems.

Requirements for courtrooms are set by the state Supreme Court.

The court is aware of the county's space problems, said Strauss, who hopes the situation can be resolved in a few weeks.

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