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Fulton judge to sheriff: Reopen closed courthouse doors now
Sheriff Ted Jackson must re-open two entrances to the Fulton County Courthouse this month to alleviate tediously long lines for potential jurors and other members of the public, a judge has ordered.
Superior Court Judge Doris Downs ordered Jackson to open the Gordon Joyner Bridge entrance between the courthouse and the Fulton County government complex by next week, according to an order released today. A second entrance on Pryor Street must be opened by the end of the month, Downs said.
The sheriff also has until the end of the month to submit a plan for opening another entrance on Pryor Street.
Jackson blamed staffing shortages and related security issues when he closed three of the four public entrances to the public last year.
But Downs, who last week called for a hearing on the matter, wrote that the closures
“have resulted in members of the public having to wait in tremendously long lines in order to gain access to the Complex — lines often stretch out of the Complex and down the sidewalk at the beginning of the business day. …
[M]embers of the public including but not limited to lawyers, litigants, witnesses, jurors and prospective jurors have had their access to the building unreasonably delayed so as to hinder court proceedings and other business functions occurring within the Complex and, in some cases, incurring significant financial costs to lawyers and litigants”
The closing of the bridge to the county government office building, Downs wrote,
“imped[ed] the flow of mail and the provision of food services to the complex and requir[ed] numerous county employees and others to cross Pryor Street encountering unnecessary dangers and delays that the Joyner Bridge was constructed to avoid.”
Downs called off last week’s hearing but scheduled another one for May 28 for Jackson to explain himself if he has not complied with the order.