As far as Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, is concerned, closing Meriden Superior Court “is just not on the table.”
“It makes no sense whatsoever,” Donovan said in a phone interview following his tour of the courthouse Friday.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell proposed closing both Bristol and Meriden Superior Courts during her budget address to the General Assembly on Wednesday.
Rell’s proposal includes moving the caseload in Bristol to New Britain and dividing the caseload in Meriden between Middletown, Waterbury, and New Haven Superior Courts. According to Rell’s proposed budget the closure of the two courts would save more than $2 million for each year of the biennium and includes eliminating about 39 positions.
During his tour of the court Donovan met with Superior Court Judge Brian Fischer who told him the court handles more than 200 cases per day. There are approximately 1,000 pending criminal cases and 2,000 pending civil cases, Donovan said.
Trials would be delayed and plea bargains would be made if the court was closed, Donovan said.
A Judicial Branch spokeswoman said the branch is still reviewing the governor’s proposed cuts.
The closure of the courts is about more than the courts themselves, Donovan said. He said closing Meriden Superior Court will have an adverse economic impact on downtown Meriden, which is just beginning to see some revitalization.
“It would devastate downtown,” Donovan said.
He said just the other day he was talking to someone who wanted to open up a luncheon near the courthouse. He said he advised the person to do it because he doesn’t see the legislature approving the closure of the court.