First look inside Duval County Courthouse

Published On: Jun 12 2012 05:33:36 PM EDT
Updated On: Jun 13 2012 09:43:57 AM EDT

A first look at the new courthouse.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

It's a view only construction workers, city managers and the first few courthouse employees have seen: the inside of the new $350 million Duval County Courthouse.

Channel 4 was escorted through the 800,000-square-foot building Tuesday afternoon, entering through a security vestibule that leads to an atrium soaring seven floors.

The Clerk of Courts offices takes up the entire first floor and share part of the second with the jury selection room, a cafeteria and a few family courtrooms.

The third through sixth floors contain dozens of courtrooms: juvenile, family, civil and criminal. The judges' chambers and hearing rooms take up the top floor.

The building approved by voters more than a decade ago has been controversial for its delays and ballooning costs.  

Courthouse atrium (tall-small) Most recently, its opening was pushed back three weeks for the contractor to get a highly-technical fire control system to work.

Despite the controversy and delays, Judge Mallory Cooper it will serve the people well for the next half century.

"It's a beautiful public building. It's a place where justice happens and it will look like a place where justice will happen. I feel most citizens, if not all will be pleased," Cooper said. "I think they will be trilled."

SLIDESHOW: Inside $350 million courthouse

While workers with Turner Construction finish up a punch list of things needing to be finished, take off protective wraps from railings and elevator doors and make one last cleanup of construction dust, others are moving in furniture, setting up computers, shelving books in the law library and even decorating a wedding chapel.

The courthouse has 51 courtrooms and 47 hearing rooms -- more than double those in the old Bay Street courthouse.

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