Cold Snap: Burst pipe causes water damage in Frank Murphy Hall of Justice


 Photos by Steve Thorpe

By Steve Thorpe
Legal News
Hustling repair crews over the weekend and on Monday at Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in downtown Detroit reduced the downtime to zero for Wayne County Circuit Court.
“It was the early morning hours of Saturday when a pipe burst in the lobby area,” said Wayne County Circuit Presiding Judge Timothy M. Kenny. “It was a pipe leading to sprinkler heads for the fire suppression system.” 
The leak caused water damage to the building's lobby, the bond office, the jury assembly area and two ground floor courtrooms as well as a room used by the Wayne County Sheriff's Department.

A cause has not yet been determined, but intense cold and old pipes are suspected.

“Much to the credit of the building authority people, they got right on it with a restoration team,” said Kenny. “A lot of people put in many hours and did exceptional work to get our two courts operational. We're very grateful for the long hours under difficult circumstances that the crews put in to make sure the court was up and running on Jan. 6.”

Paula Anderson, director of Buildings Division for Wayne County, and her team did a sort of triage when they arrived on the scene, deciding which issues had to be dealt with immediately and which could wait.

“Security is of utmost importance in the courthouse, so public safety items came first,” she said. “We made sure that some equipment was operational so (the deputies) could scan visitors coming through. We also insured that the ceiling was secure and that we had adequate lighting for visitors and occupants to travel safely.”

Anderson stressed that a cooperative effort between facilities personnel and the building occupants was key to the quick turnaround.

“It was a team effort  for everyone involved,” she said. “The courts, prosecutors, clerks, security and the buildings division team did a great job getting everything up and running and open for business Monday.”

Kenny said that, although the work needed to open the court was completed, much additional work remains to be done.

“There's still ongoing work that will have to be done, including replacing carpeting and drywall repairs, but that will be done after hours so it won't interfere with court operations,” he said. 

Federal Court in downtown Detroit remained closed for a second day and a notice on their website read: “Due to inclement weather, all Eastern District of Michigan court facilities are closed on Tuesday, January 7, 2014.”

Most area courts were open Tuesday and conducting normal business.