By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER
Effective Friday, Aug. 30, Bristol Courthouse, 131 North Main St., will be closing. All cases from Bristol will be heard at the New Britain Judicial District Courthouse, effective Tuesday, Sept. 3, 20 Franklin Sq., New Britain.
The news was announced by Patrick L. Carroll III, chief court administrator, on Monday, April 29.
Bristol mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said that all employees would be transferred to new locations, with the majority heading to New Britain.
Connecticut Judicial Branch officials stated that they have already started working with Zoppo-Sassu, Chief State’s Attorney Kevin T. Kane, and Chief Public Defender Christine Perra Rapillo to “facilitate the closing of” the Bristol courthouse (Geographical Area 17), and the “transfer of those cases to the New Britain courthouse” (Geographical Area 15).
Sen. Henri Martin (R-22) said that he was a little disappointed to hear about the closing, but that everyone is trying to find ways to save money. In his opinion, the closing of GA 17 probably “made the most sense” when examining the numbers and activity.
According to state officials, the Bristol courthouse saw 4,524 cases from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018. State officials said that the closing of the Bristol courthouse will save the state $146,776 annually, as that was the cost of leasing the building.
Currently, the New Britain courthouse receives cases from Berlin, Newington, Rocky Hill, and Wethersfield. GA 15 saw 27,227 cases from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.
Plainville Police Chief, Matthew Catania, said that because the majority of the department’s work is seen in Bristol, they’ll be sending cases and detainees to GA 15. When the decision was made, he was contacted by a state attorney and has since begun working with GA 15 to “get a feel for the process.” Because the change is new, he said the department will be going “step-by-step to determine what the process looks like.”
Catania said that he doesn’t see or anticipate the change having an impact on the general public.
“Our clients’ ability to physically get to the courthouse is always a concern when a facility is closing. However, the consolidation of the Bristol docket into the New Britain Judicial District courthouse presents an opportunity to maximize our limited staffing resources and potentially provide better service,” Perra Rapillo said in a press release. “The public defender’s office will work with the judicial branch and the Bristol community to help our clients successfully navigate the transition to the new location.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@BristolObserver.com.