Offenders Help Fund New, Safer Courthouse

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It's where Justice is served in Fairfield County. But the Ohio Supreme Court says it's not safe and it's not doing justice for the judges, victims or suspects that have to go there.

"It doesn't really provide the level of security that we think is appropriate," says Fairfield County Muncipal Court Judge Pat Harris.

The current Main Street courthouse in Lancaster was built in 1898.

Both county judges tell 10TV there are a number of safety concerns, including the fact that defendants and their alleged victims sit near each other inside the courtroom.
The same bathrooms are also used by defendants, jurors and judges which has resulted in some awkward moments.

"Could you imagine using the facility and the defendant next to you asking about how much time I'm likely to give him right before we enter into the courtroom?," Judge David Trimmer told 10TV's Jason Frazer.

To solve these problems, the judges say about 10 years ago they started taken a portion of court fees they received from speeding tickets and moving violations and using the money for a new courthouse.

"What we have tried to do is take the burden off the taxpayers and try to shift it to the ability of the court to fund it," says Judge Harris.

Two brand new courtrooms will be built and there will be separate seating for defendants and victims.

"On the second floor, there will be a third courtroom and also the prosecutor's office as well as the probation department," says Judge David Trimmer.

The judges hope this project will help revitalize downtown Lancaster.

Construction on the project is expected to begin in November.  It will be completed by next fall.

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