Starting Monday, city departments like the city attorney’s office and the police and fire departments will begin a move into the center.
Seel and Herrington are excited to settle into their new courtrooms, which are much larger, more functional, safer and up-to-date, Seel said.
Bozeman’s municipal court has been in the basement of the Law & Justice Center since the mid-1990s.
Although it was functioning, the courtrooms and office spaces were cramped and the municipal court had nearly run out of space for its archives and files.
The Law & Justice Center was originally built as a Catholic school and both the judges’ courtrooms were converted from classrooms.
“This is actually the first time that we’ve had a city court that was designed as a courtroom,” Seel said. “We’ve always been in other buildings and remodeled spaces.”
There are three court rooms at the Public Safety Center, but only two are built out for use. The third is a shell room that could be built into a functional courtroom if the need arises as Bozeman grows.
Technological improvements should also help how the court runs, Herrington said. As an example, in Seel’s existing courtroom jurors would have to view visual evidence on a small TV screen against a wall.
Seeing or hearing evidence could be difficult for some jurors, and for those in the galley.
The new courtrooms will have individual monitors for each juror, and there will be large TVs that are visible for both the jurors and the galley.
“I think that the (attorneys) will feel really good about practicing in that in that courtroom,” Herrington said. “And for the jurors, there’s a level of comfort that they’ve never gotten in these courts.”
Each courtroom has its own jury room, judges’ chambers and meeting rooms where clients and lawyers can meet.
“There are a lot of improvements and most importantly safety (improvements),” Seel said “Not just for the people that come to court but also for the employees and staff.”
Both judges got to consult with the center’s architects and gave input on how they wanted their courtrooms to look.
After operating for years in the cramped courtrooms of the Law and Justice Center, Seel said he was grateful to the city of Bozeman, elected officials and voters for making the Public Safety Center happen.
“We may have some of the most efficient and beautiful courtrooms other than federal courtrooms in the state,” Seel said.
This story was updated to correct the date for the first day of open court. Bozeman Municipal Court will hold open court on Sept. 7.
Let the news come to you
Get any of our free daily email newsletters — news headlines, opinion, e-edition, obituaries and more.