Judicial center closed Aug. 6

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By Jamie Baker-Nantz

Don’t go the Grant County Judicial Center at 224 S. Main in Williamstown on Monday, Aug. 6 and expect to do business because the office will be closed.
Judicial branch employees, including circuit/district court clerks and their employees, will be off work for the first of three furlough days as a result of deep cuts the Kentucky General Assembly made to the court systems budget for the fiscal years 2013 and 2014.
The furloughs will close judicial offices on Aug. 6, Sept. 4 and Oct. 15 of this year.
The Grant County Courthouse, located at 101 N. Main in Williamstown and housing offices such as the judge-executive, planning, building inspector, solid waste and county clerk, will not be closed.
The closing only impacts judicial or court-related offices such as district and circuit court.
Grant County District Clerk Shirley Wilson said that losing three days, especially on Monday when district court is held in Grant County, is tough on the public as well as her staff of 11 clerks and one federal employee who works from her office.
“The General Assembly took $9 million out of our budget and you can’t operate without enough money so this was their solution,” Wilson said.
Wilson said with the office closed on Aug. 6, court cases were simply given other dates.
“It’s just what we had to do,” she said. “It was a directive from the judicial branch.”

This marks the first time since Kentucky’s modern court system was formed in 1976 that the Judicial Branch must close judicial centers doors to balance its budget.

Furloughs are one of several measures included in the Judicial Branch’s budget reduction plan for 2013.

Chief Justice D. Minton Jr. said the legislature did not fund a pay equity plan that would make judicial branch salaries competitive with the other two branches and a capital project to replace the court system’s obsolete case management system, which is at risk for failure.

Other measures that have been taken  to reduce the budget include;
• Eliminating the Kentucky High School Mock Trial program.
• Charging Kentucky schools $10 for criminal records reports they currently receive for free.
• Increase the cost of criminal record reports for all other customers from $15 to $20.