Criminal trial disrupted at Lubbock County courthouse due to plumbing problems

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 3:53 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - For two days in a row, the 364th Judicial District Court has been disrupted by “70-year-old plumbing problems.”

A “pungent odor” due to a sewer line problem delayed a criminal trial at the Lubbock County Courthouse on Tuesday. Judge Eichman, who presides over that trial, says this is the second time this has happened in the past year or so.

He says while he is not blaming anyone, it needs to get fixed.

He says it is not just a health issue for workers and the jurors, but this kind of delay is also costing taxpayers.

“The reason that we are here is for the courts to administer justice. The other departments need to get together and make sure we can do our jobs,” he said.

Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish said, “We do have a 70-year-old facility and sometimes 70-year-old facilities do have 70-year-old plumbing problems. They’re minor problems and when we see them, we correct them as quickly as we can.”

Judge Parrish says it took maintenance crews only a couple of hours to fix the odor problem.

Eichman was able to resume court Tuesday afternoon.

Then on Wednesday morning, in the middle of a trial, at about 10:45 a.m., there was a loud noise and the water began gushing from the ceiling.

We spoke to Judge Eichman about what happened today.

“Well, it’s the second time in two days we’ve had to delay our trial and send jurors home for a while. Yesterday we had, of course, the bad odor that caused us to shut down for a couple of hours, maintenance got to it right away, did a good job, and only delayed a couple of hours. Today, we were in the middle of the trial, about 10:45 a.m., we started hearing things -- sounded like jackhammering on the roof and all of a sudden there’s a flood in the courtroom. So, we sent the jurors away until 1:15 this afternoon, and we’re having to relocate to another courtroom, it’s just not safe to be in that courtroom right now.”

When asked what the flooding and plumbing situation was going to do to the trials going on now, Eichman said he wasn’t sure.

“I don’t know. We have to have safe courtrooms to have trials in that aren’t delayed, we just have to, and something has to get done about it. It needs to get fixed. I understand it’s an old building, but for us to have trials, we need all the courtrooms to be available, and frankly, ours isn’t right now until they get it fixed.”

There was a backlog of trials due to COVID, and the plumbing situation is not helping, Judge Eichman said.

“We’re back on full-steam ahead right now because of the COVID situation finally improving to where we could, but while we were doing other things -- guilty pleas and the like -- not having the threat of jury trials did create some backlog. I have trials scheduled this week, next week, and the week after, and I’m not alone in that regard. We need to have courtrooms where we can try cases or we’re not going to be able to move as many.”

“It’s just frustrating. It’s frustrating for us, for the citizens who come to serve on juries, and it’s just a situation that needs to get remedied.”

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