Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, December 24, 2003


Page 3


San Luis Obispo Courts Back in Operation After Earthquake


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The San Luis Obispo Superior Court resumed normal operations yesterday after closing in the wake of Tuesday’s earthquake, Court Executive Officer Wayne Hall said.

Hall said that while court buildings were shaken and suffered “cosmetic damage” in the temblor, the reason for the shutdown was the extended power outage.

“That compromises security,” Hall explained.

Criminal defendants were returned to jails soon after the earthquake struck, courtrooms were closed, and most employees went home to check for damage there, he reported. The quake left a gap between two San Luis Obispo government center buildings, one of which houses courtrooms and the other of which is shared by the clerk’s office with other county government agencies, Hall said.

But he added the damage is not believed to be structural. The two buildings were constructed next to each other, but do not depend on each other for support, he said.

The court’s buildings in Paso Robles, where two deaths from the earthquake occurred, were “a bigger mess, but still nothing we couldn’t recover from,” Hall said. Files were strewn about and sprinklers came loose from the ceiling, he said.

The branch court in Paso Robles consists of a 1960s building which has a courtroom and a hearing room and a triple-wide modular building next door to it which is occupied by court staff.

“It jumped around quite a bit,” Hall said of the modular structure.

On Tuesday, Chief Justice Ronald M. George invoked the authority of Government Code Sec. 68115 to declare a court emergency for the county, which extends deadlines for arraignments, felony trials, and civil filings.


Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company