Federal courthouse filling up

Published 1:22 am Saturday, October 6, 2007

NATCHEZ — The federal court is moving and has important decisions to make — like where to put a soda machine.

The federal court moved into its new, permanent home this week — the newly finished federal courthouse on Pearl Street.

Court officials and U.S. Marshal employees moved furniture and office supplies from their temporary offices in the county courthouse this week.

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The building on Pearl Street, built in 1853, has had many lives, among them an auditorium, opera hall, skating rink, a forum for the Historic Natchez Pageant and a public library.

Local, state and federal governments combined efforts to create the building’s most recent transformation.

Builders used original wood timbers to restore many of the building’s features. New amenities, such as state-of-the-art security and courtroom technology, were added, too.

“With excellent architects, the General Service Administration and guidance from (Historic Natchez Foundation directors) Ron and Mimi Miller, the new has been tastefully blended with the old,” Judge David Bramlette said. “I think the citizens of Natchez and Adams County will be very proud of their building. I’m very pleased.”

Previously, Bramlette’s court has been operating out of Jackson and Vicksburg. State judges have been very generous about sharing courtrooms, he said.

But now he’ll have his own. The new courtroom includes monitors for jury members, the judge and the public that attorneys can use to display evidence. A teleconference system will allow expert witnesses to testify from the other side of the country.

Employees will have more room, too.

“I’m excited about it,” courtroom Deputy Debra Jackson said. “It’s a nice, new building. We’ll have a lot more room and be able to be better organized. I’m anxious to get settled in.”

The first court proceedings are scheduled for Oct. 15.

The public will be invited to a grand opening at 10 a.m. Oct. 22, where state legislators will speak.