Tuesday, April 01, 2008

On the future of the federal courthouses in the W.D. Va.

In March, the Danville paper had this article, speculating on the future of the federal courthouses in Danville (and Big Stone Gap).

The article quotes Libby Sharp from the clerk's office in Big Stone Gap.

The article says in part:

"In 2007, a congressional committee conducted a comprehensive study of U.S. District courtrooms to determine how often they were being used and for what.

"Many, many courts across the United States were (under consideration for) being closed," said Libby Sharp, deputy clerk in charge of the Big Stone Gap district courts.

Local attorney Lewis Goodman, who works at the Danville Regional Law Center, said, "Danville is high on the underutilization list and is threatened."

The 341 meetings constituted about 10 percent of the usage of the building, according to local legal experts.

So if the government does want to close down underutilized courthouses, losing them pushes Danville up the list.

"Ultimately there's a concern…a reduced amount of 341s in Danville will reduce (overall) caseload (which) will justify closing the courthouse," said Mark Williams, a bankruptcy lawyer with Williams, Morrison, Light and Moreau.

Danville wouldn't be the only court in the district. Big Stone Gap managed to escape that fate last month.

Sharp said Big Stone Gap was facing being shut down because there was no resident judge and the district didn't have as many filings as it used to.

But after consideration and a plea from the court, the committee in charge unanimously decided to keep the system in Big Stone Gap.

Caseloads have dropped throughout the region, according to John Corcoran, clerk for the Western District of Virginia. That includes Danville, but doesn't make it unique, he said."

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