Two courts in a single place?

Officials propose combining county and district courthouses

Officials with the 22nd Judicial District approached the Montezuma County Commissioners Monday with the possibility of combining the county and district courthouses into one building.

The proposed move of Montezuma County Court — currently located at the intersection of Mildred Road and Empire Street — into the District Court building at 109 East Main St. in Cortez is aimed at improving efficiency, convenience and security.

Eric Hogue, administrator for the 6th and 22nd Judicial Districts, said combining the two court staffs would provide an improved service to the community.

“We have barely enough staff in that office, we have barely enough staff in this office, if we were able to get the two together, it would be a completely different perspective,” he said.

In addition, Hogue pointed out patrons who visit the local court system often arrive at the wrong court and must be directed to another building.

The recent move of several county offices to a vacant bank building across Main Street freed up space in the county-owned building at 109 W. Main. Hogue said he would like to use that space for two additional courtrooms.

At Monday’s meeting, county and court administration expressed agreement that the next step in the process would be to put out a request for architectural firms qualified in courthouse design to study possible options and the feasibility of a renovation.

Hogue said the biggest goal of the project would be to improve efficiency and not to add lavish comforts.

“We’re interested in a good, functioning space,” he said.

From a security perspective, Hogue said the goal would be to partition the public, court staff and inmates. He said the proposed consolidation could also save the county money in the form of fewer deputy work hours required from the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office needed to guard the courts.

The 22nd Judicial District serves Montezuma and Dolores counties.

Reach Reid Wright at reidw@cortezjournal.com