Two divisions of state's attorney's office headed back to courthouse

URBANA — The support enforcement and civil divisions of the Champaign County state's attorney's office are moving back to the courthouse in downtown Urbana as of Monday.

The support enforcement office, which is responsible for prosecuting parents who don't pay their court-ordered child support, has been at the Brookens Administrative Center, 1776 E. Washington St., U, for several years.

The move should be completed by Tuesday, according to Assistant State's Attorney Susan McGrath, one of two staff attorneys in that division. The other is Gail Rogers.

"Because we're in court so much, just being in a place to have direct access to the courtroom and the clerk's office is really a blessing," said McGrath. "Right now at Brookens, we have to drive to the courthouse, take files with us, then take files back to office. Already we're saving time and labor.

We have to do the same thing when we go to the clerk's office (to file)."

State's Attorney Julia Rietz said the move was made because there is now space available to accommodate those attorneys in her second-floor office at the courthouse and she likes the idea of having all her staff in the same location.

"They're happy because it's easy to feel like you're not a part of the office when you're in a satellite facility."

Additionally, Rietz said she had concerns about the safety of her staff at Brookens.

"People involved in these cases can get emotional and having my staff in a remote part of an unsecured building was cause for concern," she said.

McGrath said the shutdown of computers and phone lines and fax machines began Friday afternoon.

"As of Monday, we're in the courthouse, but we won't be up and running until Tuesday because we won't have phones and computers set up," McGrath said, adding they have been giving handouts to people in court for the last couple of weeks and will have signs posted on the office doors at Brookens informing clients of the move.

McGrath said Bill May of the probation office supplied public service workers who have packed for the move.

"They've been packing files and putting together boxes to pack supplies. On Monday, they will actually move boxes into the van for us. We would never be able to do that without them. All the people are very polite, very cordial and really hard workers. I can't tell you how helpful this was," McGrath said.

Also moving back to the main courthouse are assistant state's attorneys Joel Fletcher and Dave DeThorne, who work on civil issues for Rietz, and four support staff members who work with the attorneys.

The support enforcement office phone number remains the same: 217-384-3850. The fax number will also remain the same: 217-384-3851.

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SwifferFan wrote on October 13, 2012 at 8:10 am

Sounds like a good move for the right reasons and that, perhaps, the next step is a centralized records system so files are accessible from any location?  I'm surprised such a system doesn't exist already, but one step at a time as "they" say.