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Downtown criminal courts building to be shut a second day

May 9, 2011 |  4:29 pm

Courthouse Los Angeles County court officials said that repairs on a ruptured sewage line will keep the downtown criminal courthouse shut for a second straight day as they worked to ensure that felony arraignments continue uninterrupted.

Officials with the Los Angeles County courts said Monday they expect to be forced to move felony arraignments to other courthouses because of the break in the main sewer line, which caused flooding in the basement of the courthouse at Temple and Spring Streets.

At least 75 defendants' arraignments were reassigned Monday from the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Courts to central arraignment court, said L.A. County Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.

He said officials did not yet know how many arraignments would have to be moved Tuesday because of "sewage issues." No suspects will have to be released under a state law that requires suspects to be processed within 48 hours, he said.

"Everybody that needed to have their arraignment had their arraignment," Whitmore said.  "All the cases that need to be heard tomorrow will be heard and those that don't will be held over. Nobody is going to be released because of the flooding situation."

Officials initially said that a construction crew might have caused the problem. Whitmore said it is now believed that the rupture took place over the weekend, flooding the basement. That led to a shutoff of all water service in the building, court officials said.

The flooding affected a boiler room and exhibit unit at the facility, according to court officials.

The incident was the second significant interruption of court business in recent days. On Friday, courtrooms were evacuated as part of a fire drill.


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-- Andrew Blankstein

Twitter: @anblanx

PHOTO: Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Building CREDIT: Ken Lubas / Los Angeles Times