Federal judicial officials are closing six courtroom facilities to save about $1 million in annual rent costs, as part of a move to reduce costs.
The Judicial Conference of the United States agreed today to close the following court offices, which had no full-time resident federal judge: Wilkesboro, N.C. (upon completion of the renovation of the courthouse in Statesville, N.C.); Beaufort, S.C. (at the end of the lease term in 2014); Meridian, Miss.; Amarillo, Texas (upon the cancellation of the lease for the bankruptcy court space); Pikeville, Ky. (releasing the bankruptcy courtroom and chamber in leased space); and Gadsden, Ala.
The conference, the policy-making group for the federal judiciary, looked at the building's usage, location, condition and operating costs before making the decision.
Earlier this year, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts sent out letters that included a list of the 60 least-used federal courthouses in the country. A.O. Director Thomas Hogan, also a senior judge with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, testified to Congress that it was not a list of courts to be closed, necessarily, only that judges were asked to send responses that describe why the courthouses are important and should be kept open.
Also announced Tuesday: The conference asked each district court unit — offices for the clerk, probation, pretrial services and bankruptcy — to adopt a plan to share administrative costs. The judiciary also plans to save $1 million per year by eliminating printing and mailing court of appeals slip opinions, and instead having the courts provide electronic copies only.