Law library to be remodeled
The law library on the third floor of the Washington County Courthouse will be remodeled this summer into conference rooms.
During the Washington County Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning, board chairman Richard Young said that last week there was a safety meeting about courthouse security addressing some of the concerns with the third floor.
“They would like to take the library and make that into two conference rooms,” Young said. “The judges would like to see that done and the attorneys in the community.”
“Right, the attorneys would,” said Washington County Attorney John Gish.
Currently, there isn’t a spot for defense attorneys to meet to consult with their clients because a locked door was installed to the judge’s chambers, Young said.
“Right, it would help diminish some of the issues that we kind of created when we put that locking door mechanism in there,” Washington County Auditor Dan Widmer said, “because as I understand it right now it really limits the places where attorneys can have confidential discussions with their clients. Correct?”
Gish said Widmer was correct.
“Say, for example, a defendant is in jail, defense attorneys don’t always get the opportunity to go in and visit them, especially if they practice out of Ottumwa or Iowa City, so their best bet is to visit with them before a hearing in the courthouse,” Gish said. “In most cases you see that happen in the stairwell, which is obviously is not good for privacy, or we try to sneak them back to the meeting room that has been closed off.”
The county received a bid from Renoux Builders for $2,874.19 for the project, Widmer said. The work would take place sometime this summer.
The books in the law library will be taken care of by Clerk of Court Julie Johnson, Young said.
“The books are somewhat outdated,” Widmer added.
“Right,” Gish said. “I don’t know of any attorneys that actually use the library for reading the books.”
Everything is mostly done on the computer, Young added. This would be one more thing addressed in the courthouse security plan.
Supervisor Stan Stoops asked if the supervisors needed to approve the bid for the remodeling project. Young said it was already in the budget.
“I just wanted to bring it to your attention,” Widmer said. “Kind of like when Jacob [Thorius, Washington County engineer] has a big purchase to make, even though it’s already in the budget, as a means of communication just to let you know what is going on.”
Washington County supervisor Jack Seward Jr. made a motion to acknowledge the remodeling of the law library into two conference rooms. The motion was approved. Supervisor Abe Miller was absent from the meeting.