Commonwealth

of Massachusetts ASSISTANT CLERKS Lois A. Cignoli Kevin J. Claffey, Esq. Mary C. Cullinan Brian R. Dolaher William L. Eason John J. Fitzgerald Terrence C. Ginley Daphne G. Moore, Esq. Stephanie A. Roscoe, Esq.

CLERK OF COURTS
Hampden County Superior Court Laura S. Gentile, Esquire Clerk of Courts
HAll OF JUSTICE P.O. BOX 559, 50 STATE STREET SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETIS 01102-0559

Honorable Gale Candaras State Senate P.O. Box 937 Wilbraham, MA 01095 December 5, 2013 Dear Senator Candaras, Enclosed please find a list of concerns regarding the integrity of the Hampden County Courthouse. I would like to be clear that the issues included on this list are what I consider to be problems integral to the facility itself and not due to any lack of attention by court personnel. The building is in such poor condition that maintenance is a reactive function and not a proactive one. The list consists of the most commonly regarded shortcomings from throughout the courthouse offices. It is broken down into categories, however many concerns fall into more than one area. For instance, a broken door that is stuck may be structural, but may also be a safety concern because it's a door that eliminates an exit path for employees and/or jurors in the event of a court melee. The Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning system, (HVAC) is wholly inadequate. It is the source of so many complaints that I am sure I have not accounted for them all. Complaints include the comfort level of the air temperature, which may seem innocuous, but extremely hot temperatures, as well as extremely cold ones affect employee productivity. The temperature can even have constitutional impacts; a hot courtroom can cause a juror to become inattentive. There are so many leaks in the windows and throughout the building that maintenance has become tantamount to plugging the damn with a piece of chewing gum. What appears to be mold from the water damage causes employees to become alarmed about health issues. Evidence retention is a serious concern, again, another problem with potential constitutional ramifications. The trial court has convened a committee to examine how and where the various courts keep their evidence. I believe this is a result of something
Office Civil (413) 735-6016 Criminal (413) 735-6017 Fax (413) 737-1611 TIY (413) 827-9379

that has evolved through the Innocence Project designed to ensure that evidence is properly preserved. As I'm sure you know, DNA evidence, for example, must be preserved in a temperature controlled environment. We certainly don't have that. This problem in not isolated to our courthouse; it is a state-wide problem. However, we don't even have enough space to store our evidence, much less the proper space. One of my greatest concerns is the potential risk posed to the public simply because we have outgrown this building. As you know, we are the second busiest superior court in the Commonwealth, and the Springfield District Court, which is housed in this courthouse, is the busiest district court in the Commonwealth. We process very serious cases in this courthouse. Murders, home invasions and weapon cases are commonplace. Frequently, we have more than one very serious case on trial at the same time. For instance, last May there were three murder cases being tried at the same time, as well as a civil case that stemmed from a murder. Often, these trials involve rival gangs. Anytime there is a criminal case that involves a victim, such as a homicide, tensions are high. The Hampden County courthouse simply is not designed to provide the safeguards needed for the high volume of serious cases for which we are responsible. It seems as though it is always after a tragedy that people sit up and take notice. I would like us to be an exception to that rule and fix the problem before something tragic occurs. We need a new courthouse. I think it might be interesting for you, and anyone else you think should be involved, to visit us on one of our busier days, the wayan ordinary visitor would. In other words, find your own parking, wait in line to get into the building and take the public elevator during the busiest morning hour. I would, of course, accompany you. I think it would be an eye opener. I hope you find this helpful. If there is anything else you need from me, do not hesitate to call me. I look forward to speaking with you. Sincerely,

Laur ntile, Esq. Hampden County Clerk of Courts

Concerns with 50 State Street

Structural Concerns: • • • • • • Cracks in walls by Court Room 3, 3rd Floor Doors that do not close and/or do not open (i.e. Ct. Rm. 3 and doors to Judges' Lobbies 3rd Floor) Leaking windows all over the building (i.e. D.A.'s office and west side ofthe building are particularly) Overhangs - building shakes when trucks drive by - other parts of building shake Fourth floor - rain/water comes in from the roof Sections of Library floor, Clerk's Office and other areas of building: walls and floors vibrate

Health Concerns: • HVAC system and Air Quality - dirty air vents/ what looks like black mold due to the number of leaks - what appears to be mold growth from leaks ( employee in Probate diagnosed with lung cancer - allegedly mold was found in her lungs) - lack of air circulation (four staff in the Clerk's office with serious eye problems) - no windows that open (no fresh air) - peeling paint from all the leaks and from age - water stained ceiling tiles/black stained tiles/missing tiles from so many leaks - temperature is so uncomfortable it affects productivity (outdated HV AC system too hot or too cold - no happy medium) - bathrooms are insufficient; not handicap accessible, not updated and too few of them - cannot accommodate the needs of the courthouse - different departments/floors should have their own controls for heating and air conditioning - not one temperature for the entire building -some parts of the building are unbearably hot while others are unbearably cold - employees note that they feel better when they are not in this building

Space Concerns: • Not enough storage for materials that we are mandated to keep • Vaults are too small • Courtrooms not designed to accommodate desk top computers and other technology (i.e. recording devices) • Court rooms and jury rooms are too small • Lock up overcrowded • Office space is inadequate - multiple people in small areas designed for one • There is no proper space for evidence retention • There is not enough room to properly empanel a jury, especially if more than one case is going on at a time

Safety Issues/Accessibility • Elevators

Concerns:

- Inadequate number of elevators available to the employees and public - It is rare to have all elevators operational - Elevators do not stop level to the floor causing people to trip - On 11/25/13 the Judges' elevator became stuck, with 2 people on it, requiring the fire department to respond • Public Address system - Court Rooms/Clerks Office do not have public address systems in the event of an emergency (An announcement was made regarding the tornado of June 15( which was not heard in the clerk's office or courtrooms.) Handicapped Accessibility - Court Rooms; Employee Bathrooms and Jury Rooms are not handicapped equipped/accessible - much ofthe building is not accessible Parking - Inadequate on-site parking for court employees - Off-site parking is inadequate and unsafe after dark for employees and the public, ( Court employee mugged leaving work) - jurors have asked to be escorted to their cars after dark, taking security personnel from other duties Lock-up facilities are too small and provide safety risks Other Concerns • • • • • • Lack of signs directing the public to the different courts/offices Locks on doors all need to be replaced Not enough actual seating/chairs in court rooms Library has only one entrance/exit in violation of building code Probate Court has nothing to separate/protect the employees from the public (safety glass, etc.) Employees have to bring large sums of cash to the bank and/or the Armored car personnel via public elevator/halls. Technological Concerns There is no wi-fi There is no dvd, or audio visual equipment or hook-ups (The Clerk's office does not even have a flat screen TV to be used in court)

• •

Constitutional Concerns: There is no space for an attorneys to confer privately with clients Jurors use the same elevators, entrances as everyone else, including defendants Jurors are transported to courtrooms through public hallways Co-defendants are held in the same lock-up

Public Risk Concerns: The facility lacks built-in security measures to accommodate the level and number of serious criminal cases handled on a regular basis: -there is no lock-down mechanism -there is no warning system to alert people when a melee occurs; court officers rely on antiquated radios to contact each other for assistance. -there is one metal detector at the front entrance; it is antiquated and slow and it cannot accommodate the number of people who come through the door (this results in delays in getting the already back-logged court sessions started because we are always waiting for someone to clear through.) - the lock-up facilities are overcrowded which makes it difficult to properly manage/secure the prisoners - there is only one Superior Court lock-up which makes it difficult to keep defendants who need to be separated away from each other, which in turn causes additional security risks ** this is a serious safety concern given the volume of cases this courthouse has, the lack of built-in security measures and the lack of court officers There are no security systems outside the courtrooms (i.e. video cameras monitoring the hallways) -there are no holding places to keep families of victims and defendants separated; court officers must separate them ....these court officers are already spread too thin -there are not enough elevators to keep separate people who should not be on the same elevator and there is no stair accessibility -the courtrooms are not big enough to keep parties separated

Potential Concerns with the Construction of the MGM Casino: • • • • • It will be virtually impossible to conduct business at 50 State Street Traffic tie-ups Lack of parking - almost all of the lots where employees now park are to become MGM property Transportation of defendants will be nearly impossible Potential interruptions in utilities and/or other services Potential increase in the number of cases as a result of the casino means all the aforementioned safety/storage issues will also increase

noise and debris from construction will be disruptive to court proceeding, (which could potentially affect constitutional rights of individuals)

***** The site of the proposed casino can be measured in feet from the courthouse. The
construction of this multimillion dollar project along with the 191 construction Project will make it impossible to conduct courthouse business.

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