Watertown vs. State In Courtroom Dispute


Does the city of Watertown really need a second courtroom for its second full-time judge?

With some 9,000 city court cases a year, a state court official says one isn't enough.

"With a courtroom, you can never know when it's going to be used or not used until almost the day it occurs - or how long it's going to be used," said Gerard Neri, court attorney referee, 5th Judicial District.

The city drew up a plan for a second courtroom right next to the first, but then rejected it because of the cost - $1.5 million.

The state has countered with what it says is a cheaper plan of converting the Codes Office into a new courtroom.

But don't forget, the city has already served notice it doesn't intend to build any new courtroom at all.

Will the city soften its stance?

"Obviously we have a responsibility to accommodate the court system. I guess the size and scope of that is what's in play," said Mayor Jeff Graham.

On May 6, the state Office of Court administration will be in Watertown to meet with city officials.

"I think it's better to get the principals together, try to hash it out so everybody knows where everybody's coming from," said Graham.

There is some common ground - both sides agree the current courtroom entrance needs work to make it more secure.

Thursday, December 8, 2016
, Watertown, NY

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