Southern Inyo residents heard the news with sad hearts. The systematic loss of economy and population in the south end of the county has stripped away services and businesses. News that a large new court building would go up seemed like some kind of promise of growth. However, Inyo’s presiding judge confirmed the news that Independence will now get a small facility while Bishop will gain the $30 million mega-court facility.
The State Administrative Office of the Courts, according to Judge Lamb, questioned placement of a major facility far away from the bulk of Inyo’s population in the Bishop area. But it was the State that evaluated Independence for the $30 million initially. The assessed need in Independence won the large funding for Inyo. Judge Lamb said the State took the position that if a large facility went up in Independence, there would never be a chance for a new court in Bishop. So, Judges Lamb and Dean Stout decided that the big, new court building should locate in Bishop.
Judge Lamb said that he insisted on some kind of court building for Independence to serve the residents of South County. Lamb said a some $2 million court building, possibly modular, next to the jail would be a full service court. Prisoners in custody could walk to the court, saving transportation costs.
The $30 million court facility in Bishop will include all administrative services and storage. This building will include two courtrooms, rooms for lawyers – a court complex. Jury trials can more often be conducted in Bishop where most of the jurors live. The court headquarters will mean convenience for lawyers and judges and some other workers but a diminishment for the county seat.
As for the old, historic courthouse, the courts would abandon their space upstairs and it would revert to the County. Occasionally the upstairs courtroom might be used for ceremonies.
Judge Lamb will talk about all of this at the Supervisors meeting Tuesday as the first agenda item at 9am.