Citing concerns of the U.S. Attorney’s Office that could lead to closing Danville’s federal court division, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are pushing for security upgrades at the courthouse.
The senators brought the issue before the U.S. General Services Administration — a group that manages government buildings — and the United States Postal Service, which operates the building that contains the Danville courthouse, according to a news release.
Kaine made a trip to the courthouse located at 700 Main St. in July to tour the facility and learn more about the security problems.
The federal courthouse serves the cities of Danville and Martinsville, along with the counties of Henry, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Halifax and Charlotte.
“Despite its active federal docket, the Courthouse continues to face serious security and safety deficiencies, requiring a collaborative and concerted effort to ensure that it can adequately serve the district,” the senators wrote in the letter dated Jan. 4. “We share the concerns of the judges of the Western District and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in that the inability to make substantial improvements could lead to the closure of the Danville court division, further impeding the judiciary’s already constrained ability to serve the community.”
People are also reading…
Warner and Kaine support efforts by the U.S. Marshal Service to use available space in the building for security upgrades.
“It is critical that the federal judiciary maintains its presence in Danville and that it is able to do so in a safe and functioning space,” they wrote in the letter.
The exact security flaws weren’t detailed.
In July, Danville City Council signed off on allowing the U.S. District Court for the Western District to conduct hearings and trials in the city courthouse, known as the James F. Ingram Justice Center.
Otherwise, hearings and trials would have to be conducted in Lynchburg or Roanoke.
It was in 2021 when the United States Marshal for the Western District of Virginia recommended that no criminal proceedings be held in the Danville federal courthouse for security reasons, according to a letter submitted to Danville City Council.
That resulted in a court order “requiring that criminal trials involving defendants or witnesses who are in custody not be held in the Danville federal courthouse.”
The senators also are targeting a courthouse in Norfolk for similar issues. U.S. Reps Bobby Scott and Jennifer Kiggans joined Warner and Kaine in making a plea for upgrades at the Walter E. Hoffman U.S. Courthouse in Norfolk.
“For over two decades, the Court has had no choice but to rely on a facility with significant and long-recognized concerns,” the lawmakers wrote in that latter. “In an effort to make some progress, the Court worked diligently with your staff and the U.S. Marshals Service from 2019 through 2021 to identify notable vulnerabilities that, while not a complete solution, would improve the security shortfalls of the Hoffman Courthouse.”
There they discovered seven security-related construction projects, according to the release.