By Myrna Trauntvein
A new courthouse will be built in Nephi.
The Fourth District Court will be held in the new facility and, therefore, the mandated building, which should be done six to seven months after it is begun, will be rented by the state for that court.
It is planned that the rent collected will pay for construction.
Juab County Commissioners closed their public session, and entered into the municipal building authority so that they could consider an agreement between the authority and the State of Utah Administrative Office of the Courts.
"We are entering the building authority to consider an MOU (memorandum of understanding) between the building authority and the courts," said Chad Winn, commission chairman.
The county has a building authority, made up of the county commissioners wearing different hats, who act to acquire, improve, and/or extend one or more projects and to finance their costs on behalf of the public body, in order to accomplish the needed public purposes.
The Local Building Authority of Juab County finances building projects, such as constructing the Public Safety Building. It does not, however, finance operations and maintenance.
Val Jones, commissioner, is president of the building authority for the county but he was on vacation and, therefore, the commission determined to authorize Jones to sign the MOU when he returned.
"There will be no expense to the county taxpayer for the new facility," said Rick Carlton, commissioner. "The state court system will pay rent for their use of the building. "We are very, very lucky to have negotiated this deal with the state administrative office of the courts."
That is exactly the process that was used for the public safety building where the Utah Highway Patrol pays for their area of the building as part of a lease agreement.
A new courthouse needs to be built in Juab County, said Winn, and the documents being authorized between the administrative office of the courts and the county building authority will begin the process of building the new courthouse.
Property for the building has yet to be approved.
After the design process is finished, the Division of Facilities Construction and Management (DFCM) will retain a construction manager to oversee the job. Following that selection, the bond amounts will be determined.
The bonds should be ready by October 2012 and construction should start the spring of 2013.
"We have to sign an agreement with the state in order to facilitate the capital project for the design of the new building," said Carlton.
The county will then seek funding and will bond to construct the building. Likely a grant from the CIB (Community Impact Board) will provide the necessary construction funds.
Carlton said the first idea considered was remodeling the existing courtroom in the county building. That proved to be impossible to do.
"Remodeling would not be cost-effective," he said.
Since the building will be approximately 6,000 to 9,000 square feet on one floor, which will be constructed using the slab-on-grade foundation method, it is thought that construction costs will remain low for the courthouse.
Slab construction consists of a single layer of concrete, several inches thick which is usually poured thicker at the edges, to form an integral footing; reinforcing rods strengthen the thickened edge. The slab normally rests on a bed of crushed gravel to improve drainage and casting a wire mesh in the concrete reduces the chance of cracking.
"We plan to hold the expense to a minimum," said Carlton.
After the design, a RFP will be written. A request for proposal (RFP) is a document written much like a contract that solicits interested parties to enter into an agreement that will provide specific services or solicitation under conditions provided by the entity.
Winn said that the state is mandating that something be done to improve safety in the courtroom. Either safety measures are taken sufficient to ensure safety of the attorneys, judges and those coming into and leaving the courtroom or the state will close the courtroom in Juab County.
"We would then have to transport our prisoners to a courtroom in Utah County or Millard County," said Winn, "That would represent a hardship for witnesses."
The attorneys and staff would also have to travel back and forth for court and would need to have offices located in the county selected.
All of that would represent a cost increase which would need to be picked up by the taxpayer.
"It would also represent an accessibility issue for local residents," said Jared Eldridge, county attorney.
"Building a courthouse is a necessity," said Winn. "We were told that our courtroom was the second most dangerous in the state."
The new courthouse will have a sally port, or a secure, controlled entryway, protected from the public.
"That will be much safer for everyone than having to unload prisoners at the back of the county building, escort them into the building and then into the elevator to take them upstairs," said Winn.
According to the "Utah Bar Journal," 14 No. 2 March 2001: "Although it seems hard to believe, the courtroom is one of the most dangerous places for lawyers…The only known attempt to study courtroom violence at the state level was made by Barbara E. Smith for the National Sheriffs' Association. In her report, she studied 243 reported cases of court security violations (from 1989 to 1991) that occurred in the 109 courthouses that responded to a nationwide survey. Only three surveys were completed and returned by courts in Utah, one each from Salt Lake, St. George, and Uintah County. The results of this survey revealed that most incidents occurred in the criminal court. Of the 243 security violations, 107 involved individual attacks that resulted in 124 injuries. Of the 107 attacks, 24 percent of the intended victims were judges, 5 percent were prosecution attorneys and 3 percent were defense attorneys. Seventy-four percent of the assailants were defendants, 8 percent were spectators, 4 percent were plaintiffs, 6 percent had another role in the proceeding, and 8 percent had no role at all. Of 75 suspects who verbalized a reason to officials for the attack, the most frequently stated were revenge, escape, intimidation, and to influence the court. The 1991 study is very informative, but it only represents 29 states and 77 counties nationwide."
Jared Eldridge, county attorney, said he had reviewed the MOU and found it to be what had been agreed upon in the negotiations meetings held with the state.
However, he will look it over once more to make certain that all items agreed to are included.