January 8, 2019 10:53:09 AM
Defense attorneys in Lowndes County will soon have more dedicated space to confer with their clients in the courthouse.
Lowndes County supervisors on Monday unanimously approved a bid from Darwin Holliman Construction to renovate the county judge's office on the second floor of the courthouse to provide the extra space. District 3 Supervisor John Holliman is not related to the company chosen for the work.
The winning bid was $35,355 -- the lowest of the three bids by roughly $8,0000 -- and work will begin in early March. County Administrator Ralph Billingsley said the construction should take "no more than a few weeks."
The new space will be divided into separate rooms for defense attorneys, including public defenders, to meet with clients. Currently, they work out of open cubicles, Billingsley said -- which detracts from the confidential nature of attorney-client conversations.
"We're going to make those cubicles into little rooms so the court-appointed attorney can have some privacy when they're meeting with their new client," Billingsley said.
Separately, walls inside the county judge's office will be relocated so the county judge will have a private meeting space. Currently, the county judge and court administrator share an office.
Defense attorney and Columbus-based lawyer Carrie Jourdan said this construction will benefit lawyers working in the courthouse, as well as their clients.
"If you had more office space, you could spend more quality time (with clients) and do prep time, meaningful prep time, where you could concentrate," she said. "Also, it would be a good spot to interview witnesses and get people brought up.
"It's very difficult when you're sharing space," she added. "Everybody's overhearing everybody, plus people are often upset. It's very distracting. It would be excellent, and it would help people to get better representation. It's all-around a better plan."
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