Oregon’s newest courthouse, in Multnomah County, is about 9 months away from opening.

Inside the 17-story building, work is underway in several areas to put the place together.

In the presiding judge's courtroom, only the layout is in place.

"You’ll have the judge's bench over here and the clerk will be to the side," said JD Deschamps, the county’s project manager for the past 6 years.

"Another very interesting feature we have is a transom above. So, there will always be natural light in every courtroom. Some of the other ones there’s no natural light and if you’ve been in there for 8 hours you don’t know if it's sunny or rainy or whatever it is," Deschamps said. "So this is a chance to bring a little amenity to the judge, the jurors and everyone who has to be here for court."

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Taxpayers are footing the bill for the new courthouse, which is $324.5 million.

The building will hold 44 courtrooms — four of those will be larger than the others.

The county currently has 38 judges, so there is room for growth.

Multnomah County Courthouse
Pat Dooris

Pairs of courtrooms will have shareholding cells for the accused. A separate elevator shut off from the public will carry them to different floors for their court appearance.

Those entering and leaving the courtrooms will probably notice another design touch involving light.

"The other thing we did very intentionally is we oriented all the public spaces towards the river," Deschamps said. All courtrooms will exist toward the river and the jury assemble is also on the side of the river, even down to the spaces where you have to pay for your parking and speeding tickets. All public spaces have a river view. 

The new courthouse has seen lots of different workers — 435 trades took part.

Some of the workers are in apprentice programs, which gave local political leaders a chance to attack a plan by President Trump to loosen standards on who can create an apprentice program.

"They have a different model that they're proposing, a new system for apprenticeship, based on private for-profit colleges sub-standards set by unaccountable third parties. That's not acceptable," Rep. Earl Blumenauer said.

In the meantime, the new courthouse moves closer to completion every day.

"It's been amazing to see the progress on the courthouse. We're watching from the other side of the river as it gets higher and higher and more things go. We're really proud of what’s happening there," Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson said.

It won't be ready for business until next spring, but when it does open it should stand tall for decades to come.

"It’s a 21st century-and-beyond courtroom. The old courthouse lasted a hundred years. This is going at least last 100 years and it's also designed to the highest seismic standards," Deschamps said.

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