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New Duval courthouse will not open until next week

7:27 AM, May 30, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The new and old Duval County Courthouses are both closed at this time and the new courthouse will not open until next week, according to court administrator Joe Stelma.

The new courthouse faced issues last week when it did not pass fire suppression tests. Today, 400 cases are affected, Stelma said.

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Trying times: New Duval County Courthouse will not open today

Until the new courthouse opens, judges from each branch -- civil, criminal, family law, and juvenile -- are available for emergency filings and walk-ins at the courthouse annex, which is located at 220 E. Bay Street, Stelma said.

Domestic violence walk-ins are conducting business as usual at the courthouse annex as well.

RELATED: Courthouse users worried by its delayed opening

Juvenile hearings and traffic court are being conducted at the court's facility located at 3490 Beach Boulevard, Stelma said. Anyone with a summons is expected to show up.

"Those who have traffic hearings, that court has not been shut down and it is operating on a normal schedule. If you have a hearing there, you need to make an appearance," Stelma said.

READ: Judge Scott Mitchell's letter to attorneys about cases pending in County Court Division G

Also working on a normal schedule is the pre-trial facility at 500 E. Forsyth Street, which covers first appearances (J1), domestic violence (J2) and child support hearings (J3).

Martin Senterfitt, chief of the emergency preparedness division, said at a Tuesday evening news conference with Mayor Alvin Brown that, "right now, plans look good" from Turner Construction for a new fire safety system at the new courthouse.

The testing phase of this plan could begin "possibly as early as tomorrow night," Senterfitt said. "It really comes down to Turner Construction and their ability to pull this off."

Jessica Deal, the mayor's liaison to the City Council, said in a letter to the council that the public's safety is of the utmost importance.

"Some of the most important of these standards are designed to ensure safety for building occupants in the event of a fire," Deal wrote. "This is a legal obligation that the City of Jacksonville will not compromise at the new courthouse."

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