New Civil Courthouse Opens

Harris County's new $119 million Civil Courthouse officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The 17 story building has 37 courtrooms and will be home to both the county clerk and county district clerk's offices. Houston Public Radio's Rod Rice reports.

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Construction of the civil courthouse took three years. Harris County Judge Robert Eckles says the finished project is arguably one of the finest courthouses in the country. He says it's because many of the people who will work in the building had an active part in its construction, such as the county clerk and county district clerk.

"The judges have been very much involved. We looked at the long term operating cost of the facility and put in the kind of structure that will be impressive to the public, it's a public space that will look good, but at the same time wear well and be lower cost to operate."

This new building, in the 200 block of Caroline, is another major segment in the county's downtown courthouse master plan.

This civil courthouse fills out the second phase, our juvenile justice center will be opening in a few weeks, catty-corner from this building, where we consolidated to provide a more efficient operation for the juvenile justice system in this community. Then moving from that the plaza will become the center piece as an open space and jury assembly room.

The family law center and old courthouse will both be restored, the county parking garage will be expanded and underground tunnels will link the buildings. It is estimated that all work will be completed in 2008.

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