WAUKESHA — After years of work, the secure courtroom addition to the Waukesha County Courthouse was displayed during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday afternoon.
County Executive Paul Farrow said the new addition to the courthouse, 515 W. Moreland Blvd., was part of a long-term project to renovate the aging courthouse complex. Now that this part of this project is completed, however, he said that the secure courtroom addition will serve Waukesha County for years to come.
“We’re making sure we have a building that can last generations,” Farrow said. According to a press release, the addition to the courthouse is 62,000 square feet and features a total of six standard courtrooms along with one large capacity courtroom and one intake courtroom with an attached bond room. Each of the standard capacity courtrooms has a victim/witness room, an inmate holding cell and a conference room. There is also public seating with phone chargers throughout the new four-story addition and two rooms designed for media to view public trials, as well as conference rooms and private spaces for attorneys and witnesses.
The new courtrooms feature high-definition displays, panic buttons, cameras for video conferences and screens within the jury box for jurors to examine evidence more closely. Jury deliberation rooms, too, permit jurors to request and view court exhibits and audio from the room.
The new addition itself is also designed to promote security within the courthouse. Each section of the courthouse is sectioned off to ensure that inmates and the public do not have to interact with one another, and the inmate holding cells spread throughout the courthouse are directly connected to the Waukesha County Jail’s holding cells.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Judge Jennifer Dorow said that all these new features are designed to promote efficiency and safety within the courtroom, and she and other judges are looking forward to using the new courtrooms next year.
“We’re excited to operate out of this complex,” Dorow said.
Waukesha County Board Chairman Paul Decker also noted during the ceremony that the project, which has been in the planning stages for years, was completed about $3 million under budget. He said that completing the project without spending additional funds will allow the county to more easily work on the next state of the courthouse renovation project, which will update the original courthouse facility that was built in 1959. That part of the project is expected to begin in 2022.
Criminal and traffic court officials will begin moving into the secure courthouse addition in 2022, while non-criminal circuit court operations will continue operate within the older courthouse for the foreseeable future.