As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday, Gwinnett County commissioners postponed action on a $74.6 million expansion of the county’s main courthouse and administration building in Lawrenceville.
The project would include an 188,485-square-foot addition to the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Building, plus a 1,500-space parking garage. Approved by voters in 2008, it was originally set to be finished in 2013. But in 2010, in the midst of the Great Recession, commissioners put the expansion on hold.
Now that it’s back on the county’s agenda, some residents wonder why it’s needed.
Superior Court Judge George F. Hutchinson III told the AJC the extra courtrooms and other facilities included in the expansion will help speed up the criminal justice system.
Hutchinson said some of GJAC’s current courtrooms are not equipped to handle criminal cases. For security reasons, criminal courtrooms require holding areas to keep the accused separate from witnesses and others.
GJAC’s current facilities may have been adequate when it opened in 1988, Hutchinson said. But Gwinnett’s criminal caseload has increased substantially since then, and the county needs more courtrooms equipped to handle them, the judge said.
Hutchinson said the scarcity of criminal courtrooms makes scheduling criminal and civil cases alike more difficult. He said additional criminal courtrooms (there are up to 10 in the proposed addition) will give the courts more flexibility in scheduling all kinds of cases and help the county finish cases more quickly.
You can read more about the proposed GJAC expansion here.