District court will convene in the Hallsboro Middle School cafeteria and media center Thursday. The satellite facility will be the first of its kind in the state, court officials said.
“We have created a courthouse in Hallsboro,” Clerk of Superior Court Jess Hill said. “I asked the AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts) and they confirmed we’re the first in the state to do it like this. Other counties have had a satellite in the county seat, but we’re the first to have a full service courthouse in a remote location.”
Child support court will be held in the Courthouse annex in Whiteville Thursday and Friday, while district is held at Hallsboro. Hill said there will be personnel at the annex to help provide directions to the HMS facility for people who are due in traffic court and end up at the wrong facility.
Courts have largely been shut down since March, although sessions slowly reopened on a limited basis in May. Superior Court judge Douglas Sasser was tasked by the Administrative Office of Courts with finding a new facility for additional courtroom space that would allow social distancing while still providing security and seating during sessions.
The county is leasing the HMS campus for $2,000 a month. The county and schools worked together to complete some repairs and improvements.
Hill said the school facility will allow sufficient space for people to “be as comfortable as they can be”. Masks will be required, and symptom checking will be required before anyone enters the satellite courthouse.
“Nobody wants to go to court,” he said. “We want to make it as easy as it can be.
“I think this is going to be a good way to reduce some of the backlog of cases,” Hill said. “I’m proud of the way everyone has worked together to bring this together in such a short time.”