Take a peek inside Siskiyou County's new courthouse, set to open for business June 14
After more than a decade of planning and delays, the new Siskiyou County Superior Courthouse will open its doors for business on June 14.
The spacious and well-lit newly constructed facility is located at 411 4th Street, Yreka and has been in the works since 2008. It was built on the state’s dime, said court executive officer Reneé McCanna Crane. Funding was included in former Governor Jerry Brown’s 2018-19 state budget.
Five courtrooms, 111 cameras
The new building has five courtrooms, with a calendar monitor outside of each for easy viewing and another two monitors in the lobby announcing each day's activities.
The building has many windows and natural lighting. There are seven clerk windows, four that cater to criminal and traffic and the other three are for family law and juvenile.
The old courthouse had 30 monitoring cameras, the new courthouse has 111 cameras and will have solar inverters as well.
The first floor of the three-floor complex has a Family Law Facilitator office which includes offices for attorneys and a classroom that is equipped with 45 wireless access points. The child custody counselor, children's area, probate investigator, and mediation offices are glassed in for observation.
Behind the courtrooms, three of which have natural light, are 28 clerk station cubicles, each equipped with dual monitors and height-adjustable desks along with a staff break room, high capacity fire cabinet area, a training/conference room with camera and projector, an I.T. room and manager offices. Each courtroom has its own holding cell, interview, and witness rooms. There is even a lactation room for nursing mothers.
Upstairs contains four of the five courtrooms, a large jury assembly room, three jury deliberation rooms, and an open waiting room. The courtrooms have a 98 to 120 person capacity limit with the largest courtroom for felony trials. The jury boxes have swivel padded chairs and a foot rail for comfort.
The judicial suite is in its own wing, and the underground floor is for inmates, who have separate elevators to the courtrooms.
“There is a lot of technology in this building,” said attorney Ryan Mannix, who was among those given a tour on May 28 so he and others who will be working in the new building could familiarize themselves.
According to the California Courts website, the building is 67,459 gross square feet.
The project site also includes 109 public parking spaces, five of which are handicap accessible and five secure underground spaces. The project budget, as of February, was $77,211,179.
Stops and starts
The approximately $59 million Siskiyou County Courthouse project has experienced several starts and stops over the years.
SB 1407 was signed into law in September 2008, designating judicial branch revenues to fund up to $5 billion in lease-revenue bonds to finance new construction and renovation projects. The law, which was initiall funded in 2009-10 – in the midst of the eonomic turndown – ensured that these projects would be paid for from within the judicial branch rather than drawing on the state’s general fund, according to the California Courts website.
Siskiyou’s project was brought to a complete halt in 2016 when courthouse projects across the state were indefinitely delayed until a “stable, long term funding source” could be dedicated to them.
The Fourth Street site was approved in 2011 and acquired in mid-2012. Demolition of homes and buildings that once sat on that block was completed in 2017.
What about the old courthouse?
The old annex building is now used as storage and for offices and will not be torn down.
Siskiyou’s current courthouse is county owned and was originally built in 1857. It is overcrowded and has “significant security deficiencies,” according to the California Courts website. It lacks on site custody holding and separate circulation for in custody defendants, staff and the public. It also has severe functional and ADA access deficiencies. It lacks enough courtrooms for all assigned judges, and one of the four courtrooms must be shared with the County Board of Supervisors. In addition, the courthouse’s lower level routinely floods during the rainy season.
Siskiyou Daily News and Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers editor Skye Kinkade contributed to this report.