Johnson County leaders pushing for new courthouse annex - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Johnson County leaders pushing for new courthouse annex

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JOHNSON COUNTY (KWWL) -

Trials postponed for years and court records overrun, because there's simply no room.

Those are the conditions courthouse employees in Johnson County are forced to work in.

Johnson County leaders say there's simply no room, no security, and no separation between criminals and the general public.

Century old evidence, piled files and records rest on dark and damp shelves.

"Files dating back to the late 1800's early 1900's," said Johnson County Court Clerk Kim Montover. "There's just no room in the clerks office."

Ann Christenson has been living in Johnson County for about ten years and says she' read about the condition of the courthouse and the storage facilities, but seeing it put things in perspective.

"It is far, far worse than I've ever imagined, said Christenson. "Totally sold after seeing what it's like in there."

Every day workers are forced to search records inside one of the off-site storage facilities, but overrun files are not the only thing they're dealing with.

"Trying to get a trail date and they were told 2016 and this was several months ago," said Johnson County Attorney, Janet Lyness.

Lyness says hearings have been cancelled and trials delayed for years, because there's simply no space.

She says courthouse staircases end up being meeting rooms and conference rooms.

"I don't know how people can work here," said Christenson.

Johnson County leaders are pushing for the Courthouse Annex that will be on the ballot in November.

Voters in Johnson County have already turned down projects that would've included a new jail and courthouse addition, but this is the first time the project focuses on just the courthouse.

"We would like to see more security, and having metal detectors so that we know people are not holding guns as we've recently seen in Jackson County," said Lyness.

If the new courthouse annex pass in November it will bring six new courtrooms, expanded space for files, court-related services, security which will include metal detectors.

If passed, the $33.4 million bond referendum for the annex will be an addition to the 113 year-old johnson county courthouse.

Johnson County leaders tell us the courthouse annex will address the the critical safety, security and space needs they're dealing with.

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