Police jurors hear about family court problems

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA. (KPLC) -Imagine being embroiled in a bitter custody battle with parties on opposite sides in close quarters due to crowded court facilities. Those type issues are among the reasons Calcasieu officials want to improve family court facilities.

Family and juvenile court facilities are separate from adult court to help protect children whose lives are in the balance. Now three judges devote their time to family court in response to increasing numbers of cases over the years. Parish officials acknowledge the need for modernization and improvement , for one reason to address security issues. Chief Judge Lilynn Cutrer addressed police jurors.  "When you look at everything this parish does for all the citizens, the parks, facilities, what we have in Family and Juvenile Court is not, I mean we are doing a disservice to the citizens who appear in that court, hands down."

Cutrer says there are other problems too such as an elevator that doesn't work right. "When you can't get off on the second floor to go to work and you just go first, third, first, third for about fifteen minutes, I mean things like that effect our daily job and it's dangerous. I mean we really have some severe security issues over there."

Improvements at Family Court were part of a tax proposal defeated by voters a while back. A later tax proposal approved did not include the increase first proposed to modernize family court. Police jurors say they know the needs are there. Juror Shannon Spell told Cutrer, "I know you have a waiting room where you have victims of abuse that are sitting three feet away from their abuser. So I would hope that in the future we'll be able to work with you."

Administrator Bryan Beam says they are committed to finding solutions. "The good news is that the 901 building renovations that will allow us to move the district attorney's office to that building give us a lot of flexibility to determine options."

In addition to divorce and custody disputes, there are many different types of family and juvenile cases ranging from adoptions to protecting children from abuse.

Calcasieu has nine state district judges,  five of whom attended tonight's police jury meeting. The jury met on Wednesday instead of Thursday because eight of the fifteen jurors are going to the Louisiana State Police Jury convention in Shreveport.

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