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Flooding closes 4 courtrooms at Frank Murphy building

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Detroit — Four badly damaged courtrooms at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice will remain closed Wednesday after an apparent water valve break caused flooding early Tuesday.

“The restoration company will return (Wednesday) to check the carpet and replace ceiling tiles,” court administrator Zenell Brown said in a press release on Tuesday afternoon. “The four courtrooms which were badly damaged will remain closed and the judges will hear matters in vacant courtrooms.”

All staff and jurors should report to the courthouse Wednesday, Brown said.

A total of six courtrooms were affected by flooding from the broken valve, which is located between the fourth and fifth floors, Brown said.

The second- and third-floor courtrooms of Judges David Groner, Margie Braxton, Ronald Giles and Kenneth King are closed. Signs are posted on the doors detailing relocation plans.

Two other impacted courtrooms will remain open despite more minor water damage, Brown said.

Meanwhile, restoration work continued Tuesday in the flooded courtrooms.

“The emergency restoration team will continue to move all wet paper products and further (assess) furniture damage,” Brown said in the statement. “None of the court owned computer equipment in any of the courtrooms appeared to be affected by the flood.”

Court officials said they are taking the repairs day-by-day and it is not yet clear if any courtrooms would remain closed beyond Wednesday.

Brown said the more updated courtrooms have carpet tiles that can be replaced piecemeal, while some of the older rooms have standard carpet that may need to be replaced completely.

The cause of the valve break is unknown, but Brown said "it's an old building."

Emergency cleanup crews were notified about the problem at about 5 a.m., according to Bill Jackson, mitigation manager for the Emergency Restoration company.

"As far as I know, there's multiple floors affected by the flood," said Bill Jackson as workers moved in fans and dehumidifiers. "Basically, we just assess the damage and then we're going to drain everything out."

Early Tuesday, there were about a dozen people inside the courthouse who had been called for jury duty.

This isn’t the first time the courthouse has been flooded. In July 2010, four courtrooms were closed when a prisoner in a holding cell clogged a toilet, causing flooding on two floors.

At that time, four judges and dozens of defendants were required to relocate to other courtrooms.

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