Local government

Malheur County Court seeks funds to plan new courthouse

VALE – The Malheur County Court wants the Legislature to earmark more than $200,000 to help officials begin planning the construction of a new courthouse.

The court – Judge Dan Joyce and Commissioners Ron Jacobs and Jim Mendiola – signed the letter requesting $250,000, Wednesday, Jan. 17.

According to the letter a new courthouse is needed because “overcrowding is rampant, with courtrooms overflowing and essential security features lacking.”

“This not only creates logistical nightmares and delays, but also undermines the very foundation of a fair and accessible justice system,” the letter said.

The letter was addressed to Oregon state senator Elizabeth Steiner, D-Portland, the chair of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, Rep. Mark Owens, R-Crane, Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, and U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Oregon.

“The courthouse lacks essential security features and suffers from chronic overcrowding. This outdated facility severely hinders the efficient administration of justice, creating delays, inefficiencies, and a disservice to all who rely on the court system,” said the letter.

According to the letter, the county plans to seek “additional state funding for the construction of a new courthouse,” in the future.

The four-page letter outlined several major problems with the current courthouse including lack of capacity for judicial matters, for staff, jury space and an inability to meet “cultural and practical needs” for non-English speakers along with a proximity to the Idaho border that often swells the population of the county and overloads court resources. The letter also pointed out the current courthouse lacks a holding room for the circuit court for individuals appearing for trial.

“The construction of a new courthouse in Vale, Oregon is a necessity. It is an investment in our community’s future, ensuring equal justice, enhancing public safety and promoting economic development,” said the letter.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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