Was all of this necessary?

Published 8:42 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Charlotte County’s court facilities needed to be updated — we’ve known that for five years — but was costly litigation between the Commonwealth (i.e. the judges) and the county necessary?

Do the judges have the authority to require or endorse a court facility at all?

An amendment that was first approved as part of the budget in Chapter 781, 2009 Acts of the (Virginia General) Assembly reads: “Mandated changes or improvements to court facilities pursuant to §15.2-1643 or otherwise shall be delayed at the request of the local governing body in which the court is located until June 30, 2010. The provisions of this item shall not apply to facilities that were subject to litigation on or before November 30, 2008.”

An explanation attached to the amendment reads: “This amendment continues the suspension of the authority of circuit courts to enter orders requiring localities to repair or replace court facilities if they are deemed out of repair.”

This amendment has been renewed every year and is still in effect today.

What does it mean? The law seems to say the judges cannot demand anything.

Our supervisors lobbied for this amendment: Why didn’t they use it to have the 2012 show cause order (mandamus) requiring improvements to the courthouse dismissed? 

They now say the judges require the connector.

Why don’t the supervisors challenge the judges’ authority to require the physical connection to the circuit court clerk’s office?

If this law has no “teeth,” why did our supervisors lobby for it and why does it still exist? Why has it been re-approved year after year?

Ask your supervisor how much did litigation cost the Charlotte County taxpayers. And was that litigation necessary?

Kathy Liston is a Brookneal resident and guest columnist for The Charlotte Gazette. She can be reached at westview@brookneal.net.