County Courthouse Shut Down Abruptly For Structural Damage To Roof

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Superior Court’s Mental Health Courthouse was shut down Thursday until further notice because of structural damage to the aging facility’s roof, officials said.

All operations for the courthouse at 1150 N. San Fernando Road were temporarily relocated to the Metropolitan Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.

Carolyn Kuhl, the presiding judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court system, said that “it’s terribly disruptive and we really don’t know how the operation will work in the Metropolitan Courthouse.”

The Mental Health Courthouse is where cases involving the mentally ill and the criminal justice system are handled, including competency proceedings for all misdemeanors and felonies, commitment and conservatorship petitions and hearings involving sexually violent predators.

Kuhl said the shuttered courthouse is “really thoroughly inadequate for the work we were doing there” and said it is, in her judgment, “the worst courthouse in the state.”

“We are not going to move back into that facility,” Kuhl said.

The presiding judge said an analysis is being done to determine where the Mental Health Courthouse could be housed in the future and that a central location is “definitely better.”

The facility is housed in a non-descript building in an industrial area between Mount Washington and Eagle Rock, alongside the L.A. River and Metro Gold Line.

The building’s property manager noticed sagging in some of the ceiling tiles in one of the courtrooms, and a contractor who inspected the damage discovered “some actual structural damage to the roof in that area,” according to Blaine Corren, a public affairs analyst with the Judicial Council of California.

Further damage was subsequently discovered in adjacent areas of the courthouse, which was built in 1940 for use as a factory, Corren said, adding that structural engineers are expected to inspect the building and determine what it would take to repair the damage.

Los Angeles County court officials have listed the Mental Health Courthouse as the most immediate and critical need for its court system. They want a new courthouse to be built in Hollywood to replace the old facility, according to documents provided by the Judicial Council of California.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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