Critics say new Dublin courthouse in Alameda County creates confusion

DUBLIN, Calif. (KGO) -- This is the opening week of the new Alameda County Courthouse in Dublin. The public defender says it's been marked with confusion and delays. Many members of the public say they've had a tough time getting to the new courthouse.

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"It's very nice-- in the middle of nowhere, but they should have put it a little closer," said one defendant's mother, Leila Madison.

Madison says the new courthouse is beautiful but it took her over an hour on the freeway to get there from Richmond Tuesday morning.

Her niece had to take her son's arraignment. The Oakland courthouse is more convenient.

"I'd catch a C-Transit bus and go to Oakland. It would really be easier for me to do," Madison added.

Starting this week, all in-custody arraignments in Alameda County will be held at the new courthouse in Dublin. It's about 30 miles from the Oakland courthouse that has always handled arraignments for crimes occurring in Oakland and Berkeley-- the majority of the county's criminal incidents.

The court says it'll save time and money. The county's main jail is right next to the new facility. No more bussing prisoners to Oakland for arraignments.

But defense attorneys say it's a burden for families of defendants.

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"A lot of clients obviously are indigent and their families are indigent," said Assistant Public Defender Ray Plumhoff. "It's a tremendous hardship."

There were also opening day blues Monday. What the public defender calls, "total confusion."

"Clients aren't being seen. Their cases are being continued until the next day," said Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods. "They're not being arraigned timely. It's just a massive failure on both ends."

Presiding Judge Morris Jacobson said in a letter to the board of supervisors, that in-custody arraignments may have remained in Oakland if the jail there housed more local prisoners.

Instead, he says most of the beds there are reserved for federal prisoners.
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