Lufkin Federal Courthouse faces possible closure - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Lufkin Federal Courthouse faces possible closure

Lufkin attorney, Bob Flournoy Lufkin attorney, Bob Flournoy

Lufkin attorney, Bob Flournoy, has worked feverishly for the past two days, seeking community support to save a federal courthouse.

"We worked for many years to get it established because we had a great need. Well, our need is greater now than it was then," said Flournoy.

The U.S. Government is considering closing down the court's operations, saying the facility is not essential in Lufkin. Local politicians disagree.

"It's just a ridiculous idea," said U.S. Congressman, Louie Gohmert.

Lufkin's Federal Courthouse is listed as number 45 of 60 other courthouses on the chopping block. Gohmert says shutting down will present larger problems, especially when it comes to properly trying cases. Clients and jurors would have to travel to either Tyler or Beaumont.

"What you'll have is people who say, 'well, it's a real hardship'. And, maybe they will get excused. Well, now you're skewering the jury pool, and you're keeping out people that should be there to be on jury duty," said Gohmert.

The government feels by closing the courthouse, they could save money. Federal Courts spokesman, David Sellers, says the amount they would save depends on rent costs, employee wages, and other factors.

"It would depend on what, if any, facilities are closed, when the closure would occur, the rent on the particular facility, staff located at the facility, other needs in the circuit, as well as many other factors that vary from facility to facility," said Sellers.

Instead of saving money, as anticipated by shutting down the Federal courthouse, Flournoy says the closure could actually hurt the local economy. Federal offices, such as the U.S. Attorney's Office, FBI, and the ATF are housed in Lufkin as well.

"If they close the Federal courthouse, those offices may go away as well," said Flournoy.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is set to begin discussing the possible closure Friday morning. A final decision may not come for months.

Flournoy says he's trying to send hundreds of letters to persuade the circuit court to keep the Lufkin Federal Courthouse operating. Officials encourage East Texans to keep the letters coming. Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce will be accepting letters until Monday, April 16th.

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