What really happened to move the major new court facility from Independence to Bishop? We spoke with Judge Dean Stout who said that at a certain point a representative of the Administrative Office of the Courts pointed to Bishop as a likely site mostly because there was no real estate available for a smaller project in Bishop.
Judge Stout said that he continues to believe that the State values input from him and Presiding Judge Brian Lamb on the major court facility project. But Stout said that after the initial mention of switching project locations the topic went away only to come back in a call from the State suggesting a shift in location to Bishop. Judge Stout this move was initiated by the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Word of this leaked out almost two weeks ago. Judge Stout said he regrets the way the news was rolled out. “A lot of people were hurt,” said Stout, who made it clear Judge Lamb is the presiding judge this year and in charge of this project. “I respect Judge Lamb,” said Stout, “and can’t speak for him.”
At a standing room only crowd meeting in Independence last Thursday, the angry citizens strongly opposed the transfer of their long-anticipated court project to Bishop. At that meeting, both judges did vow to the crowd that they would reconsider the decision to move the project.
Why did the Office of the Courts want to move the project to Bishop? Judge Stout said they were frustrated in their efforts to find a place to put a smaller court in Bishop, paid for by $2 million from Inyo County.
Stout said that the $30 million project would provide more leverage given the real estate challenges in Bishop. It’s still unknown where that big building might go in Bishop.
Judge Stout said he wants to talk more about the issue and discuss it as a clean slate. He said there will be talks with the State this week. He also said he is glad Judge Lamb is willing to put on the brakes.