Clad in a blue sweatshirt with teddy bear appliques, Rosemary Thurman paused to survey the stacks of cardboard boxes she'd been taping together.
"What do I think of the move?" asked the veteran probate clerk as she prepared to leave quarters in the basement of the old 3rd District Court building. "I'm excited to get out of here."Thurman and about 170 other people will be leaving that building and another nearby 3rd District building to move into the new $79 million Scott M. Matheson Courthouse at 450 S. State.
Employees in the old buildings have been boxing things for weeks. High-tech equipment such as computers was moved Friday, while furniture and other items will be carried to their new location over the weekend and on Monday. Records will be transported Tuesday and Wednesday.
Thurman, for one, is delighted to get out of the drab old building's basement and into the sparkling new courthouse.
"No more orange desk - which I've had for 19 years!" she exclaimed gesturing toward a metal desk painted a garish hunter's orange.
Many employees of the 3rd District building at 240 E. 400 South have complained about "sick building" syndrome for a long time. Ventilation isn't the best. Some areas are swelteringly hot while others are freezing. It also isn't the cleanest or most aesthetically pleasing place around.
Contrast that with the sunny new courthouse with its soaring dome, state-of-the-art construction, spotless work areas and even a cafeteria.
However, several people mentioned concerns about the court's new computer system, which has been in operation since December 1997. Getting it up and running in the new building is of vital importance.
The courts still use a lot of paper, despite a move to get everything online.
"The courts are the type of institution where there are a lot of people who are used to seeing the actual paper. Even though we're going electronic, you'll still see a lot of paper," said Craig Ludwig, the clerk of courts.
Ludwig said there are 200,000 files to be moved.
The courts must stay open, but they'll slow down tremendously next week while boxes are unpacked and the employees get settled into their new quarters.
Ludwig said most of the court calendars have been cleared since everyone in the system knew about the moving date for five months. Most judges cleared their calendars entirely, although one or two have urgent business that must be conducted next week.
Arraignments will be held next week because people who have been arrested must appear in court within 72 hours. Other than that, much of the criminal and civil court activities will slow to a crawl.
"We can't just shut down," Ludwig said. "People can come in if they want to file a complaint, but we'd prefer that they wait a week. We'll do the things we have to do next week, but we're hoping it will be slow."
Ludwig said court employees have handled the changes well.
"Most people familiar with the courts are familiar with the new computer system. Employees learned that in the last few months, and now they're going through a major transition, but they're doing very well. We have a good staff."
The new courthouse not only will be home for the 3rd District Divisions I and II but also will house the Utah Supreme Court, the 3rd District Juvenile Court, the Utah Court of Appeals, the Administrative Office of the Courts and the State Law Library. Most of these judicial functions were scattered in separate locations before the new building was constructed.
Joyce Robbins, a clerk in the domestic violence court, said consolidating the courts into a new building is a great idea.
"The move is like any move - it's a hassle. But the end results are worth it," she said.