New high-tech courthouse opens after months of delays

SAN DIEGO — The sleek, high-tech $555 million San Diego Central Courthouse opened for business Monday following months of delays.

The lobby of the 22-story building at C and Union streets has touch-screen directories that display information for each floor and large wall displays of case names and assigned courtrooms that resemble arrival and departure data in airport terminals.

Family and probate courtrooms opened Monday, while other court functions will move into the 704,000-square-foot facility next month. Currently, floors one through seven are open to the public.

“The move into the new courthouse at 1100 Union St. will bring significant improvements in safety and service once accomplished,” said Presiding Judge Jeffrey Barton.

“The move itself is the largest and most complex logistical task ever undertaken by the court,” Barton said. “Judicial officers and staff will do their best to minimize inconvenience to the public during this transition.”

The 71-courtroom building took about two years to build, but problems with fire safety systems delayed the opening for months.

The courthouse consolidated the operations of Family Court, on Sixth Avenue, and Probate Court, on Fourth Avenue, and will next take in departments that are mostly for criminal courts. All were housed in downtown facilities considered by court officials to be overcrowded and obsolete.

Also coming soon will be a new trolley stop for the courthouse that’s currently under construction on C Street.