‘Ushering in a new era of justice’: DuPage officials cut ribbon on court-related renovation, expansion

DuPage County Board members and Chief Judge Kenneth Popejoy celebrate at a ceremony Tuesday for expansions and renovations of court-related facilities. The county added two courtrooms in the courthouse, enlarged the courtroom at the jail, and added a third floor to the judicial office annex.

DuPage County Chief Judge Kenneth Popejoy was beaming Sept. 12 as he showed off $19 million in expansion work and renovations at the county’s judicial facilities in Wheaton.

“We are fully prepared to be in full compliance when the [pretrial portion of the] SAFE-T Act starts,” Popejoy said shortly before cutting a ceremonial blue ribbon on a new courtroom.

“We are ushering in a new era of justice in DuPage County,” Popejoy said.

“We will hit the ground running,” County Board Chairman Deb Conroy said. “This is just another instance where DuPage County leads the way.”

The work includes adding a third floor to the judicial annex building. The public defender’s office is moving into that space.

With the move, the public defender staff will have about 36% more room to do its work. That includes offices for misdemeanor attorneys and larger spaces for meeting with clients.

Both the public defender and the state’s attorney will have bigger staffs because of requirements of the SAFE-T Act, such as preparing for and having evidentiary hearings at defendants’ first appearances.

Conroy said that when the annex was built 23 years ago, its planners designed it to be capable of adding a third floor.

The work also included enlarging and remodeling the bond courtroom at the jail. It is now called the “first appearance courtroom.” That was finished at the start of the year.

In addition to enlarging the grand jury room, the project added two domestic relations courtrooms.

Renovation work continues on the state’s attorney’s, pretrial and probation services offices.