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County to use Memorial Center for jury trials

Daily Inter Lake | September 25, 2020 7:00 AM

Lincoln County is poised to lease the Libby Memorial Events Center for $575 per district court jury trial.

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners reviewed the facility rental agreement during a Sept. 23 meeting. Normally, nonprofits are charged $600 for use of the facility, but the Kootenai Heritage Council dropped the price to $500 for the county, said County Commissioner Mark Peck (D-1).

The remaining $75 covers a tear down fee, Peck said.

“It’s great to have the space if we need it,” said County Commissioner Jerry Bennett (D-2).

It was not immediately clear if District Judge Matthew Cuffe had reviewed the agreement. Commissioners indicated they planned to check with him.

While arraignments and other hearings have proceeded — with a few changes to reduce crowding — in the courthouse, trials have been held elsewhere amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials tapped the Libby Middle High School gymnasium earlier this year for jury trials. Doing so landed Lincoln County on the pages of the Wall Street Journal in May.

As of Sept. 23, the court has two-day criminal jury trials scheduled for Oct. 13-14 and Oct. 15-16, and a civil jury trial set for Oct. 27. All three are planned for the Libby Memorial Events Center.