New courthouse to open in Pittsburg

November 10, 2010 1:38:03 PM PST
Officials will celebrate the opening of a new courthouse in downtown Pittsburg on Friday that will replace the overcrowded Pittsburg-Delta Courthouse and improve access to justice in east Contra Costa County.

The Richard E. Arnason Justice Center, named for a retired Contra Costa County Superior Court judge, will open to the public Monday.

The new seven-courtroom courthouse is the first courthouse built by the state Administrative Office of the Courts designed to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, according to Teresa Ruano, spokeswoman for the state Administrative Office of the Courts.

The $64.7 million building is also the first courthouse in California to be built entirely with funds from court user fees and assessments rather than the state's general fund.

Construction on the project began in April 2009 and was completed on time and on budget, Ruano said.

Once the new courthouse is up and running, the old one, which was built in 1952, will be demolished.

Judge Arnason, 89, was born on a wheat and dairy farm in Hansel, North Dakota. He moved to California with his family in 1943 after his father got a job at the shipyards in Oakland, according to reports.

Arnason graduated from University of California, Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law in 1945 and joined a law firm in Antioch in 1949, Ruano said.

He was appointed to the California Superior Court in 1963 and served as presiding judge twice in 1968 and 1978, Ruano said.

He retired from the bench in 1995, but has continued to serve as an appointed judge on many cases, Ruano said.

Chief Justice Ronald George is scheduled to speak at the event Friday, along with Presiding Judge Mary Ann O'Malley, Pittsburg Mayor Salvatore Evola and Administrative Director of the Courts William Vickrey.

The event will be begin at 2 p.m. at 1000 Center Drive in Pittsburg.


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