Judge Culhane’s Statement re: New Sacramento Courthouse
On February 3, 2016, the California Judicial Council’s Court Facilities Advisory Committee voted to recommend the scope, budget and timeline for new 53 courtroom courthouse to be located in downtown Sacramento. The building would be located on property located in the downtown railyards on property already purchased for the courthouse project. In formulating its unanimous recommendation for a single, unified courthouse, the Committee rejected as unworkable two other alternatives that would have split court functions between a smaller new courthouse and the existing Gordon D. Schaber Courthouse.
According to Sacramento Presiding Judge Kevin R. Culhane, the Committee’s approval of the single, unified courthouse represented the culmination of several years of study by the court, as well as construction and architectural experts assigned to the project by the Judicial Council. According to Judge Culhane, the single courthouse concept received strong support throughout Sacramento’s legal community as well as from Congresswoman Doris Matsui, City Council Member Steve Hansen, District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, Public Defender Paulino Duran, and Sheriff Scott Jones.
Culhane also discussed the next steps that will be necessary to bring the project to shovel-ready status. He stated that the Committee’s recommendation must first be adopted by the Judicial Council at its next meeting, although he believed that the recommendation may be placed on the Council’s consent agenda. Because the recommendation changes the size of the original project, it must also be approved by the State Department of Finance. Upon approval, the architect already selected for the project, Naramore, Bain, Brady and Johanson (NBBJ), would begin preparation of the design plans for the new courthouse.
In the meantime, the selection and approval of the project means that the Court and Judicial Council will now turn their attention to the difficult issue of identifying and securing funding for the actual construction of the first new general use courthouse to be constructed in the California’s state capital in over half a century. In describing the importance of yesterday’s vote, Judge Culhane noted that “California is the most populous state in America. This vote means that hopefully, California’s state capital will one day have a courthouse that reflects the states commitment to justice, fair treatment, and the rule of law for all of California’s citizens.”