Massachusetts officials celebrated the groundbreaking of one courthouse and the opening of another as the state modernizes its halls of justice. Judges and state officials celebrated the groundbreaking for a new Fall River Trial Court at 186 South Main St. on Oct. 22 and the opening of the Worcester Trial Court on Oct. 16.
The Worcester Trial Court, which opened in September, houses the Worcester District Court, Housing Court, Juvenile Court, Probate and Family Court, the Superior Court, and an office for the Worcester County District Attorney. It is the largest courthouse in the commonwealth with. The modern, four-story, 430,000-square-foot building, which cost $180 million, contains 26 courtrooms, lawyer-client conference rooms, jury deliberation rooms and a grand jury room.
“Throughout history, Massachusetts has advanced America’s pursuit of equality, opportunity and fair play to every citizen,” Gov. Deval Patrick said. “Today we welcome this court to that legacy. Thanks to the hard work and commitment of our state and local officials and all members of the community, this courthouse — the largest in the commonwealth — has become a reality.”
Features include a new information technology and digital audio recording systems, secure detention areas, handicapped accessibility, a café and a monumental staircase in the building’s front lobby.
The courtrooms are bathed in natural light from huge, pane-glass windows. Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan, who hosted the event, said, “Today we make history as the halls of justice in Worcester move into the 21st century. The beauty, functionality and solidity displayed here underscore our commitment that all who come to this courthouse will understand justice as the essential cornerstone of a free society.”
The new Fall River Trial Court, which will house the Fall River District Court and Bristol County Superior Court criminal sessions, is scheduled for completion in fall 2009. The five-story, 150,000-square-foot building will contain nine courtrooms, a law library, administrative offices, jury rooms and an office for the Bristol County District Attorney. It will feature modern security and technology systems and will be fully handicapped accessible.
“I am confident that the spectacular new courthouse to be erected in downtown Fall River will embody and reflect the values of equal justice under the law and will stand as an appropriate monument to the community,” Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall said. “It is a symbol of the continuing rejuvenation of our judicial branch.”
It is the first courthouse in the state to seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design accreditation. The design incorporates high efficiency lighting and maximizing natural daylight. The heating and cooling systems and other mechanical and electrical systems will be highly efficient.
“After completing new court facilities in Worcester and Plymouth, this project is the first among the next wave of new court facilities to actually move into construction,” said Division of Capital Asset Management Commissioner David B. Perini. “Modern court facilities are critical to the efficient operation of the judiciary, and we are thrilled to be able to bring a state-of-the-art court facility, as well as a beautiful new landmark building, to downtown Fall River.”