Several police departments will be planning a new route to court as they prepare for the closure of Plaistow Circuit Court.
The courthouse on Elm Street is scheduled to close June 30 because of numerous deficiencies in the building, which is owned by the town of Plaistow and has been leased by the state to serve as a court location for many years.
The last day of hearings will be June 15.
Beginning on June 16, cases from Atkinson, Hampstead and Plaistow will be heard at Salem Circuit Court. Danville, Kingston and Newton cases will be transferred to Brentwood Circuit Court.
Selectmen and police chiefs from the communities that have used the Plaistow court were told in January that the building failed accreditation by the New Hampshire Court Accreditation Commission after inspections by the Commission, the Governor’s Commission on Disability, the U.S. Marshal Service, and the Office of the New Hampshire Fire Marshal.
Plaistow police and town officials have been the most vocal about their opposition to closing the courthouse, which is near the police station, and move it out of town. They had hoped to find a way to keep the courthouse in town because the plan to send Plaistow’s cases to Salem will increase the travel time for officers when they must appear in court.
Plaistow Police Chief Doug Mullin has estimated it would cost $10,000 to $15,000 in overtime for officers.
But police in other affected towns said they’re not anticipating a significant impact from the court closure.
Kingston Police Chief Donald Briggs Jr. has supported the idea of moving Kingston’s cases to Brentwood for years as the courthouse is closer.
Atkinson Police Chief Timothy Crowley said he expects a relatively easy transition when his cases head to Salem.
“It might involve a little extra time for travel, but other than that we’ll live with it. We’ll make the adjustment. We’re already making some changes,” Crowley said.
Court officials have said the Brentwood and Salem courthouses will be able to handle the influx of new cases.
Crowley said that while the courthouses’s caseloads will increase, the two courts are also larger. He said it might take a little longer for cases to be processed in Salem, but he’s not worried.
“Hopefully the backup isn’t too bad,” he said.
Hampstead police Lt. Robert Kelley said the distance for officers to travel to Salem will be about the same.
“They made the decision to relocate us to Salem (Circuit) Court. The commute to either court is roughly the same so it will have minimal impact on the department,” he said.
Kelley said he’s also not worried about the additional cases being handled in Salem.
He said he’s dealt with the Salem court over the years and feels it runs smoothly.
“I’m confident the transition for us over there will be fairly smooth. It will be a matter of the same business in a new location,” he said.