Federal Courthouse in Meridian Targeted for Closure

The federal judiciary says it will close the federal courthouse in Meridian. Trials were held at this location for Ku Klux Klansmen charged with violating the civil rights of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman who were murdered in 1964. It's also where James Meredith filed his lawsuit in 1961 to integrate the University of Mississippi.

The federal court on the second floor of the post office building will be closed soon, but the post office itself will remain open.

The courtroom, along with 5 other federal court facilities around the country that don't have a full-time resident judge are being closed to save money and help the judicial system avoid budget sequestration.

The federal judiciary looked at things like the building's usage, location, and operating costs to determine which ones to close.

Meridian attorney Bill May said he thinks this is a big loss for the area.

"The problem will be, obviously, the inconvenience that it will create for east Mississippians who have business in the federal court," said May. "We'll have to travel to Jackson or some other federal courthouse. Jurors will have to be transported from east Mississippi over to another courthouse."

Stanley Dearman, retired editor of The Neshoba Democrat newspaper, told The Associated Press that the courthouse contains too much history to be closed.

The court system expects to save about $1 million a year in rent costs.

The Meridian court facility is one of six nationwide that is being closed. Others are located in Gadsden, Ala., Beaufort, S. Carolina, Wilkesboro, N. Carolina, Amarillo, Tex., and Pikeville, Kentucky.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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