Judge Criticized for Lack of Public Process

At the Inyo Supervisors’ meeting today, presiding Inyo Superior Court Judge Brian Lamb ran into a buzz saw of public


Judge Brian Lamb said a new court facility in Bishop will best serve most of the people.

feelings. Some accused Lamb of single handedly relocating the Inyo County Seat.

Lamb did publicly confirm that he and Judge Dean Stout decided to move a $30 million court building project long planned for Independence to Bishop. Without any public discussion or debate on the issue, the Judges did an about face.

For months, plans had unfolded to build the new court facility in Independence. The State approved the project for Independence, based on need. Judge Lamb reasoned that more people live in Bishop so the massive project should locate there. Lamb concluded that the current court has not helped Independence economically and wouldn’t in the future.

Supervisor Marty Fortney argued for location of the project in Independence – close to the jail in the County Seat. Fortney said, “To move this to Bishop is a big slap in the face.” Lamb said he wants the greatest access to justice for the greatest number. He explained that a much smaller court facility could go up next to the jail in Independence at a cost of less than $2 million and that court matters in southern Inyo would still be handled in Independence.


Supervisors expressed concerns about the County Seat Status and financial issues.

Lamb seemed to say that the Bishop location would help workers who live in Bishop. Supervisor Susan Cash said the issue should not be driven by where people live. She advised Lamb that he should listen to members of the public with an open mind and reconsider his decision. Supervisor Cash said Lamb should honor the status of the County Seat. “Independence is our county seat. It’s history. It’s the site of the county jail.”

Supervisors Richard Cervantes said Lamb’s plan diminishes Independence and Lone Pine. “The public seems to have no choice,” he said. “You cut the people out of the process.”

All of the Supervisors said they had received a flood of phone calls and emails, some downright angry. Independence residents stood up to object.

Nina Weissman of Independence challenged Judge Lamb’s claim that the court building would not help Independence. But she stood up for the fact that Independence is the seat of government.

Kirk Peterson said Judge Lamb “wrote us off.”

Long-time Independence citizen and Eastern Sierra businessman, Bruce Ivey said of Judge Lamb, “He made a unilateral decision. He showed a lack of foresight. Most economic development in the last 20 years,” said Ivey happened in Southern Inyo – Coso Geothermal and Crystal Geyser.” Ivey said moving the court building could be the last nail in Independence’s coffin.

Nancy Masters said the business of Independence is government. She advised citizens to let the judges know about their feelings. “This is the County seat,” she said. “No decision is immutable.”


5 Responses to Judge Criticized for Lack of Public Process

  1. Eastern Sierra Local March 25, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    75% of the residents in Inyo County live north of the poverty hills; 60% of the cases in Inyo County are generated in that same area. It’s pound foolish to keep a Courthouse 45 miles away from the only incorporated city in Inyo County. Judge Lamb and Stout should be commended for their efforts to better serve the people of Inyo County.

  2. Trouble March 26, 2014 at 5:38 am #

    Come on now, I would bet over 90% of our legal beagles and even jail house folks live in Bishop. Would it be wrong for them to admit the truth?

  3. Mongo March 26, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    Disclosure; I have a home in Independence so I may not be able to be impartial in this discussion.

    I would like to join this discussion in an attempt to obtain an objective and more complete view of the benefits and costs caused by any decision.

    Pro courthouse relocation considerations:
    Possible easier access to greater population.
    More jobs in Bishop.
    Possibly higher property values.
    Better services available to county workers; restaurants, housing, etc.

    Con courthouse relocation considerations:
    Potential future change of historical county seat.
    -Abandonment of historic courthouse.
    -Reduction of jobs in Independence
    -Reduction in Independence property values and tax revenue.
    -De-emphasis on central and south county residents.
    Potential future move of Jail and Sheriff’s dept.
    -Reduction of jobs in Independence.
    -Reduction in property values and tax revenue.
    -Concentration of inmates released in the Bishop metro area.
    Potential to make Independence into a ghost town.
    Potentially less public representation regarding DWP issues due to dwindling constituency in Independence.

    Potential benefits of keeping the money and project in Independence would be the recovery of that town, possible expansion of the Inyo tax base, and attraction of services to the town.

    I humbly request other opinions on the topic…

  4. Trouble March 26, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    Mongo,Stout and Lamb live in Bishop. You already lost this battle.

  5. Mongo the Idiot March 26, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    Yes Trouble,
    I pretty much figure its “No Lo Contendre” and “Corpus Out-a-here” situation.
    Consider using your intellect to generate some ole’ fashioned pro/con thoughts for this public list.
    This blog gives us an opportunity to test our beliefs and arm each other with information enabling us to make positive thoughtful changes in our communities.
    I am sure you have ideas that are different and/or similar to mine.
    Please share them…
    You are brilliant!


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