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New Londoners Eager to Learn about Connecticut Courts

NEW LONDON – Over 1,500 inquisitive and delighted residents attended the New London Community Court Open House Saturday, March 25, 2000, at the Superior Courthouse at 70 Huntington Street.

"This is your courthouse," said the Hon. Susan B. Handy, Administrative Judge of the New London Judicial District. "Sitting in this courtroom, you are now in one of the jewels in New London’s crown."

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New London Mayor Ronald W. Nossek echoed Judge Handy’s words when he said, in his welcoming remarks, "Today you have had the opportunity to tour the oldest working courthouse in the United States. It doesn’t take much to see the beauty of its architecture. One can only imagine the stories that must have come from within these walls."

The Courthouse, which was built in 1784 and expanded in 1983, was abuzz with activity on this particular Saturday. Kids rushed around to have their pictures taken on the bench adorned in a judge’s robe with gavel in their hands and with their arms wrapped around McGruff the Crime Dog, the UConn Husky mascot or Smokey the Bear.

"Look at me, I am the Judge," one excited little boy said to the gathered crowd, while rapping the gavel.

Joining in the day’s festivities was the Hon. Robert C. Leuba, Chief Court Administrator at the State Judicial Branch, sponsor of the day’s activities.

"The Judicial Branch hopes that, through opening our doors to the community and offering a glimpse of our courthouses throughout the state, that we can better serve our citizens," Judge Leuba said.

In addition to tours of the Courthouse and lockup, the day’s activities included face painting, encounters with wandering clowns and magicians, storytelling by the United States Coast Guard Academy’s Cadet Book Buddies and demonstrations by the New London Police and Fire Departments.

Many citizens gathered around resource tables to question Judicial Branch representatives from various divisions including the Clerk’s office, Victims Services, Interpreter’s Offfice, Caseflow Management, Adult Probation, Family Support and Juvenile Matters.

A dance performance by Edgerton Middle School students punctuated the official greetings. The Judicial Branch recognized seven volunteers for their contributions to the branch: Mary Highmore of New London, Marcia Clapp of Mystic, Joseph Stafford and Jacqueline Owens of Norwich, Robert Radway and Stuart Fishbone of Waterford and Vionca Albert of Groton.

At day’s end, it was clear that a celebration had taken place, from the many balloons that clung to the ceiling of stately Courtroom One.

"It adds to the décor, don’t you think," said Judge Handy as she smiled at a youngster on the bench before her bedecked in a robe.



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