City’s federal courtroom saved from closing

Money-saving measures threatened to eliminate the local jurisdiction

A federal courtroom in Durango survived a round of cost-cutting measures by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts that resulted in the closure of six court facilities across the country.

The federal government was considering closing up to 60 court sites across the country, including one in Durango and one in Grand Junction.

Of the 60 federal court sites identified for possible closure, Durango’s ranked No. 57 on the list, with No. 1 being the most likely to be cut.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., praised the decision to keep the Durango office open.

“For Coloradans and businesses on the Western Slope and in the Four Corners region, a drive to Denver or the need to hire an attorney on the Front Range can be a heavy burden,” Udall said in a news release. “The judiciary’s decision to keep these courthouses open is a victory for western Colorado.”

The U.S. Courts agreed this month to close six nonresident federal court sites, including facilities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, Kentucky and Alabama.

The closures are expected to save the federal judiciary about $1 million each year in rental costs.

It was unclear Wednesday whether the U.S. Courts planned to close more sites across the country. A news release issued earlier this month said more budget cuts are being considered.

The federal government operates a courtroom and related services in a federal building in Bodo Industrial Park. The court has a part-time magistrate, David L. West, but has no full-time resident federal judge.

La Plata County government has been trying to entice the federal government to expand court services in Durango by establishing a full courthouse here.

County commissioners have submitted a proposal to lease 12,000 square feet in its courthouse on East Second Avenue to accommodate expanded federal court services.

The county also has bought the Vectra Bank building and other properties along East Second Avenue in anticipation of needing more office space.

shane@durangoherald.com

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