Gartin Building Courtroom with the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi

Gartin Justice Building sustains water damage

May 7, 2008

The new Gartin Justice Building in Jackson experienced widespread flooding on all floors during the late evening of Tuesday, May 6, or early morning hours of Wednesday, May 7.

The Gartin Building houses the Mississippi Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court Clerk, the State Library, the Administrative Office of Courts, the Board of Bar Admissions, the Board of Certified Court Reporters, and the Commission on Continuing Legal Education.

The Gartin Building remains open, but offices are operating on a limited basis. Only those employees essential to the continuity of operations are being allowed into the building. All other employees will not return to work until Monday, May 12.

Oral arguments scheduled for Wednesday, May 7, and Thursday, May 8, before the Court of Appeals are being rescheduled. Oral arguments scheduled for May 13 before the Supreme Court also will be rescheduled.

Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice James W. Smith Jr. in an order issued Wednesday, May 7, said, “Due to the risk of danger to the safety of the public and staff posed by this emergency event, as well as the cleanup process, all offices located in the Gartin Building will operate on a restricted basis until further order of the Court.”

The water damage appears to have started on the fourth floor, which houses the offices of the Supreme Court justices. Water flowed downward through the building, reaching all floors and the basement.

Some records in the first floor office of the Supreme Court Clerk received water damage. Also sustaining water damage were fourth floor offices of some members of the Supreme Court, third floor offices of some members of the Court of Appeals, the second floor En Banc courtroom, second floor offices of the Board of Bar Admissions, first floor offices of the Supreme Court Finance Department, and the basement office of the Information Systems Department.

Chief Justice Smith said, “We have a thorough investigation underway as to cause.”

Damage assessment, cleanup and restoration efforts are underway. A timetable has not been determined.

On Wednesday afternoon, Chief Justice Smith and Justices George C. Carlson Jr. and Mike Randolph, who are the court’s emergency preparedness team, met with building architects, Department of Finance and Administration Executive Director J. K. “Hoopy" Stringer, and DFA Deputy Executive Director David Anderson.

Court offices have occupied the new building since February. The courthouse was built to replace the old Gartin Justice Building at 450 High Street and the rented Court of Appeals Building at 656 North State Street.

The new Gartin Building is adjacent to and north of the old Gartin Building. The street address of the new building is also 450 High Street.