Kanawha adding another courtroom to judicial annex

By Cara Bailey | Jun 13, 2007

Picturesque Courtroom No. 4 in the Kanawha County Courthous is being updated, but soon will host a Monongalia County trial being filmed by Court TV.

CHARLESTON - The Kanawha County court system is getting a new courtroom.

Earlier this month, the Kanawha County Commission signed off on $150,000 to add another courtroom to the judicial building.

Together with $80,000 to $120,000 from the Commission, there will be enough funding to complete the estimated $350,000 project.

Kanawha Circuit Court Judge Duke Bloom said the court system has been very careful over the last several years on how money was spent and saved $150,000 for the courtroom, which will serve two purposes.

"We have a frequent number of visiting judges for trials or just hearings," Bloom said. "Because we are a busy circuit, our courtrooms are frequently being used."

The other purpose for the courtroom is to house the grand jury when they meet in Charleston.

"It will be a dignified and professional place for them to conduct business when in town," Bloom said.

The courtroom will be built in the spot that formerly housed the law library and court administrator offices. Those offices already have been relocated.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said the commission received a grant for $80,000 to put toward the courtroom.

"The commission can add anywhere from $80-$120,000 with the caveat that we're out seeking additional grants," Carper said.

Carper and Bloom both said the new courtroom also could be used to house an additional judge if Kanawha County ever receives one, but it is needed with or without another judge.

"It's really very needed given the number of times we have visiting judges in the building and for the grand jury," Bloom said.

Carper estimated the courtroom should be finished in six to nine months.

Currently, a visiting judge must wait for an open courtroom, go to the commission room in the main courthouse or to the historic No. 4 Courtroom.

That picturesque courtroom also has been approved to receive an update because of its acoustical problems. The commission has previously granted $80,000 for that project.

Carper said Courtroom No. 4 is being pushed into use sooner because of a murder trial brought to Kanawha County from Monongalia County. The trial of Michelle Michael was moved because of pretrial publicity. Michael is accused of murder after she allegedly paralyzed her husband then set their house on fire. The trial is rumored to be covered by Court TV.

The trial, which is supposed to begin in early July, will be before the courtroom is renovated, meaning a sound system and other equipment will have to be rented.

Renovations to the historical courtroom should be complete within a year.

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