Limestone County Circuit Judge Bob Baker says it could take years to catch up on court proceedings that were suspended over the summer because of the pandemic.
Now that suspension is over.
On Monday, the county commission voted to use the Athens Senior Center as a temporary courthouse annex to catch up on court cases while also allowing people to social distance.
Right now, the Athens Senior Center is empty and isn't used for many events but in the next month, the building will be used for jury selection, a decision county leaders made because the facility is so large, everyone can stay six feet apart.
"A lot of different characters will be coming down through the neighborhood," said resident Karen Tabor.
Karen Tabor dives by the Athens Senior Center every day.
She says not much happens at the facility, but when an event is held...
"Cars pack in over here and in this lot and down the side of the road," Tabor said.
Now the Athens Senior Center will be used to help the Limestone County Courthouse catch up on cases.
"Chief Justice of Alabama suspended cases throughout the state for months and that was the right thing to do but now that prohibition has been lifted," said Baker.
Baker says he made the decision to do jury selection at the senior center because it's safer.
"We only have four courtrooms, and I have the biggest of the four courtrooms but when you spread people out six feet apart, you can only get about 23 people in our largest courtroom," Baker said.
Baker says holding the jury selection at the senior center will speed up trials.
"Criminal cases are going to take priority over civil cases because those people are being held in jail without bond," Baker said.
"They do need to get on with the cases that are sitting in limbo for so long so that these people can either do their time or pay their dues," Tabor said.
Tabor says although she's glad the county can catch up on court cases, she still has one concern.
"It's a quiet neighborhood. I kind of like it though. I'd rather it stay quiet," Tabor said.
Right now, Judge Baker says he is ordering a no-contact temperature scanner for the building--
and the facility will start being used on October 19th.
Once jury members are selected, Judge Baker says they will report to the Limestone County Courthouse for trial--
and they will be able to be seated six feet apart.