SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Hampden County District Attorney announced Wednesday he will be removing his staff from the Roderick Ireland Courthouse due to concerns of poor conditions.
According to a Trial Court spokesperson, the following statement was sent to 22News at 3:35 p.m.:
“The Roderick Ireland Courthouse is closing temporarily to address issues in the building. The Trial Court has contracted an environmental testing firm and is arranging for a licensed mold abatement company to work in the building today to assess and address the issues that have been identified. The Trial Court will determine the ability to reopen once those assessments have been completed.”
There is allegedly a serious mold issue within the walls of the courthouse, which Gulluni says is getting worse. He said his staff won’t return to the courthouse, until there is a solution. DA Gulluni emailed his staff Wednesday morning, ordering them to evacuated the building “due to the continued deterioration of environmental conditions within.”
PHOTOS: Mold issues throughout the courthouse building
A frustrated DA Gulluni made the announcement at the steps of the courthouse Wednesday afternoon, alongside his staff. They were evacuated Wednesday morning, after increasing health concerns about mold throughout the building. This is a story 22News has been covering for years, and according to Gulluni, nothing of any magnitude has been done about it, and he won’t stand to see his staff exposed to it anymore.
“This building needs to be turned upside down. Let’s clean it throughout. Let’s make sure its safe and return people so we can do the important business of public safety and other things that happen in this courthouse,” said Gulluni.
Gulluni said the state still hasn’t committed to rehabilitating the building or building a new courthouse, something he thinks would get done had it been in the eastern part of the state. However, the trail court in Boston has called a mold abatement company, and he expects some improvements over the next week.
“Due to environmental concerns in the buildings, I am instructing you to evacuate the Courthouse and report to the main conference room on the 21st floor of Tower Square. Please do so immediately, but with due care and caution. Please take any files or other work materials with you that you will need to continue your work. ADAs should also have your laptops with which you can work remotely from Tower Square. We will continue to meet the demands of criminal justice to the extent necessary, including appearing in court; however, I seek for all my employees to avoid that environment as much as we can.”Hampden DA Gulluni
His staff of more than 45 people will work remotely at the 21st floor of Tower Square until he feels the mold issue has been remediated. Gulluni reiterated that they will still be able to get done what they need to.
The Hampden County Registry of Deeds also announced Wednesday that their staff will evacuate the building due to hazardous health conditions. Staff will be relocated to their Westfield Satellite Office at 59 Court Street.
“There are people in my opinion who have died due to the fact that they have worked in this building,” said Cheryl Coakley-Rivera, Register of Deeds. “These are hundreds and hundreds of employees, all of them cannot go remote, they live paycheck to paycheck, and it’s not fair for them to have to work in these conditions.”
Anthony Benedetti, Chief Counsel of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS), provided the following statement:
“We have serious concerns about the health and safety of our staff and clients, and while we appreciate the Trial Court closing this courthouse to address the mold issues, we need assurances that the state will do everything in its power to ensure these conditions do not occur again. This courthouse has been an issue for a long time, and there needs to be solutions instead of temporary fixes. We are facing an unprecedented backlog of cases, and we need to defend our clients in courts that are safe. Anything else is unacceptable and risks trampling the due process rights of the many people who are still waiting for their day in court.”