Three NC federal courtrooms on potential closure list

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The federal government is considering closing dozens of courtrooms across the country, many located in small, rural communities, as part of an effort to cut costs.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show 60 federal court facilities in 29 states could be on the chopping block. Most of the courtrooms are in buildings that house other federal agencies including in post offices, and many are located in remote areas.

Critics say closing them could make it more difficult for people to get to court proceedings.

In the documents obtained by the AP, the court facilities that could close were ranked based on a variety of categories including cost, usage and location. Of the 10 facilities that seem most likely to be eyed for closure, two are in Arkansas, two are in South Carolina, and the rest are spread out between West Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland.

A facility in Beaufort, S.C., tops the list, followed by the federal court site in Parkersburg, W.V. and one in Harrion, Ark.

Among the three North Carolina courtrooms on the list, Bryson City in extreme western North Carolina was ranked fourth. The only Piedmont courtroom on the list, Wilkesboro, was ranked 24th. Fayetteville was ranked 60th.

The 60 sites being considered for closure do not have a resident judge. Instead, judges based in larger cities travel to these smaller locations as needed.

A committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, the policy-making body for the federal courts, in February asked the 13 circuit judicial councils to review the list and recommend whether to keep the courts without resident judges, Sellers said. They’re supposed to get back to the committee by mid-April.

The committee will then review the recommendations and forward its report to the Judicial Conference, which could decide whether to close any of the court sites at its September meeting, Sellers said.

There are 674 federal courthouses and facilities around the country, according to David Sellers, a federal courts spokesman.