Soft opening for new central San Diego Courthouse amid lingering safety concerns

Sheriff: "We'll make it work"
Posted at 6:44 PM, Jun 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-05 21:44:29-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)--"This is a courthouse built for the future," said the Presiding Judge for San Diego Superior Court as the new central courthouse was dedicated Monday.

What Jeffrey Barton didn't say was there are still some issues that need to be addressed, not the least of which is digging an underground tunnel from the downtown jail to the new court building.

Team 10 first exposed the problem in January when a trial run was conducted to see if the San Diego County Sheriff's prisoner transport buses could fit through a narrow driveway.  One of the buses bottomed out on the exit ramp.


“It’s a safety issue. This courthouse was designed to have a tunnel," said San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore.



It will cost more than $3 million dollars per year to bus inmates a block and a half from the jail to the new courthouse.

“Obviously we’ll make it work until we do get the tunnel," said Gore, who has been working with court administrators to make sure things go smoothly.

County officials are working to broker a deal that would allow them to begin digging the tunnel, but that could be years away.

Team 10 uncovered a new problem that involves people who are granted personal protection orders by the court.  When a judge signs a restraining order, the person requesting it has to take the paperwork to the Sheriff's office in the old courthouse to have it served and enforced.  They will no longer be able to do that at the new courthouse.

People will now have to take their signed paperwork to what is now the Madge Bradley Family Court building four blocks away.  The Sheriff's Department will move its office to that facility after the family court moves into the new courthouse.

The court's executive officer told Team 10 he's aware of the problem, but it will take time to come up with a solution.

“We’re gonna have to sit down with the Sheriff and look at the way we do business," said Michael Roddy, who suggested the answer might be to file the papers electronically.  In the meantime, Roddy assured Team 10 the Sheriff's offices would stay open to accommodate restraining orders issued late in the afternoon.

Roddy explained there would be a lot of adjustments as 700 courthouse staffers move their belongings into the new $555 million court building, and get used to their new surroundings. 

"Give us a year," Roddy said.