Federal courthouse in Natchez pushed back to summer

Published 11:12 pm Saturday, April 28, 2007

Federal officials say the opening of the new courthouse in Natchez has been pushed back to the summer.

Officials had earlier indicated the opening would be in April.

“It’s approximately 90 percent complete,” General Services Administration spokesman Gary Mote said Thursday. “There is still ongoing work, including insulation and final finishes, millwork, instillation of some fixtures and exterior paving.”

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Although the physical construction would probably be completed in May, the installation of audio and video equipment would probably not be finished until June, U.S. District Court Clerk J.T. Noblin said.

It’s that new technology, in part, that makes the courthouse valuable, he said.

“Courts have moved to (electronic) evidence display rather than manual distribution of documents,” Noblin said. “It provides an increased depth of understanding of what is contained in documents or other graphic evidence.

“And by the court providing the technology, it levels the playing field, so neither side (defense or prosecution) has an advantage.”

For years, court for the division has been held in Vicksburg. With the completion of the new courthouse, some cases will be heard in Natchez.

“The Natchez location is in an area that is probably more convenient,” Noblin said. “Vicksburg is only 44 miles form Jackson and at the northern tip of the district. Natchez is more centralized.”

The 1800s building being transformed into a courthouse has had many lives, including as a skating rink, opera hall, public library, museum and a dance hall.