$10 million pitch for Ely courthouse made at Nevada Legislature | NevadaAppeal.com

$10 million pitch for Ely courthouse made at Nevada Legislature

The Senate Finance Committee was urged Thursday to help pay for a new courthouse in Ely.

They were told the current historic courthouse is completely inadequate to protect the jurors and the public when there are trials involving Ely State Prison inmates. That prison houses Nevada’s most violent and dangerous inmates, including all of those on death row. District Judge Steve Dobrescu said inmates are sitting just a couple of feet away from those jurors and witnesses.

The situation, he said, is further complicated by the requirements those inmates be in civilian clothes and not cuffed or otherwise restrained to ensure they’re able to have a fair trial.

“The intensity of what happens in every one of those instances, it blows the doors off a regular case,” he said.

Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, who represents White Pine County, introduced SB149. The measure includes $10 million to help build a new courthouse with proper safety features.

Goicoechea said it’s an issue they’ve been dealing with since the prison opened in 1989. He said it’s inevitable something will eventually happen.

“I think we’ve been lucky to this point,” he said. “It’s not if it happens, it’s when it happens.”

He said the state has to help the county since it’s the state that created the problem.

Dobrescu said the historic courthouse is next to a city park and just 500 yards from a middle school, further increasing the danger to the public.

The new building he said will be on the South Pioche Highway away from downtown and next to the White Pine County Sheriff’s offices.

He and fellow Ely Judge Gary Fairman pointed out the county is raising half or more of the total $20 million cost of a new courthouse.

The committee was told the historic courthouse will be preserved and converted to administrative county offices.

The committee took no action on SB149.