Smith County makes space to add new district court

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Published: May. 31, 2022 at 12:52 PM CDT|Updated: May. 31, 2022 at 11:21 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Final touches are being made to the new space that will be home to Smith County’s 321st District Court, which will handle family law cases.

On the fifth floor of the Smith County Courthouse Annex building is the new location of the state-of-the-art 321st District Courtroom in a space that used to be a conference room and workout space for employees.

The use for the new space comes after Governor Greg Abbott signed into law House Bill 3774 last June, which creates a fifth court in Smith County. The upcoming 475th District Court is the first new district court in Smith County for some time.

“We haven’t had a new district court here since the mid ‘70′s and since that time our population has doubled,” said Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran. “So we certainly needed a new criminal district court, which we’re going to get, 475th, beginning in January of 2023.”

Moran said the new 475th courtroom will be in the current space of the 321st courtroom and handle civil and felony criminal cases. Moran said there has been significant growth in population which means more cases per court.

“Both from a logistical standpoint and a security standpoint, it makes sense to put the 475th District Court in the original courthouse where all the other criminal courts are located,” he said.

Today in court, commissioners approved two vacant detention officer positions to move over to security so that two additional security personnel can be in the annex.

“Here in the courthouse annex we’re going to have a lot more volume of people coming through the doors. We want to make sure that they’re safe, we want to make sure that they know where they’re going,” Moran said.

All renovations to the new 321st District Court relocation are paid for through ARPA funding. So far, $504,319 has been spent on the annex, This includes the courtroom, jury room, and offices for the 321st District Court Judge and staff, according to the county.

Judge Moran said the 321st District Court will be in use starting on Monday, June 6.

The upcoming 475th District Court will be in use January 2023.

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