Part of the Hurricane Harvey-damaged main criminal courthouse in downtown Houston has reopened amid $70 million in continuing repairs since last summer’s storm.
A spokesman for Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said four floors of the Criminal Justice Center resumed limited operations Monday. Joe Stinebaker said the 14 courtrooms will handle jail dockets, such as initial appearances by defendants, but no trials yet.
Stinebaker had no timetable on when other repaired parts of the courthouse would reopen, saying that depends on what federal funds are available and when.
The newly opened courtrooms are on the 17th through 20th floors of the structure, which suffered significant basement and other flood-related damage from heavy rainstorms after Harvey made landfall in late August. The entire Criminal Justice Center had to close.
"County taxpayers have been spending nearly $20,000 a day to send hundreds of jail inmates to other locations because damage from Hurricane Harvey left us unable to operate our courts as usual," said Emmett. "By reopening these courtrooms early, we are able to save money and, just as importantly, ensure that our courts can do their jobs more quickly and efficiently."