Bangor courts prepare for move to new building

Posted Sept. 25, 2009, at 12:32 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The new $37 million Penobscot County Judicial Center at 78 Exchange St. will open Monday, Nov. 23, according to an announcement posted Thursday on the judiciary’s Web site.

The announcement listed a change of hours for clerks’ offices to accommodate the move.

Originally, the building was not expected to open until the end of December.

“It is necessary to reduce public hours of operation at the current Bangor District and Superior Court clerks’ offices in order to prepare for the move to the new courthouse,” the announcement states. “All business for both the District and the Superior Court clerks’ Offices will be handled at the Bangor District Court building at 73 Hammond St. during the week of the move — Nov. 16-20, 2009.”

The Superior Court and clerk’s office in the old courthouse will be closed all week, but the district court and district court clerk’s office will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday of that week.

The court and clerk’s office will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.

Superior Court and District Court business will be conducted in the District Courthouse on Hammond Street.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court will meet in the new building on Dec. 1 to consider Husson University’s renewed request to have the graduates of its law school take the Maine Bar Exam.

A ceremonial groundbreaking for the new judicial structure was held on Sept. 21, 2007, and the skeleton was completed the next year on Sept. 8.

The 86,000-square-foot, 3½-story building will combine the Penobscot County Superior Court and 3rd District Court in Bangor. More than 11,000 people each year are expected to pass through the doors of the new courthouse.

The structure will include seven courtrooms — one for arraignments, two for jury trials, three for family matters and one that can be used for ceremonial events or when the Maine Supreme Judicial Court convenes in Bangor. The building also will combine the District and Superior court clerks’ offices.

The need to keep spaces used by the public, prisoners and staff separate from one another limited the way each floor could be laid out, Supreme Court Justice Warren Silver, who has overseen the project, said last year. For security reasons, the public, prisoners and staff will use separate entrances to the building. Prisoners no longer will be walked through areas used by the public. The public also will not have access to judges’ chambers and staff offices.

Current plans call for security screening to take place every day at the public entrance when the building is open to the public. Recent budget cuts have curtailed entry screening at all of the state’s 40 courthouses. At least a dozen court officers will be in the new judicial center on its busiest days if funding is available, Silver has said.

The phone number for the new courthouse will be 561-2300, the number now assigned to Penobscot County Superior Court.

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