Southern District Chief Judge Loretta Preska said the renovated courthouse is coming online at just the right time, as judges will no longer be sharing courtrooms or, in some cases, chambers.
"We are fortunate beyond belief because otherwise we would be hanging people in closets," Preska said. "Because our district court judges will no longer have to share courtrooms, trials will be able to be scheduled more quickly and dispositions will pick up."
The first wave of nine district judges, most of them recent additions to the bench, and two magistrate judges will be moving in right away.
The Second Circuit's office began moving its operations to the Marshall courthouse in mid-December, but it kept its public window in the Moynihan building open until Jan. 4. The public windows in the Marshall courthouse open today.
The move will ease congestion for attorneys and the public as they enter the Moynihan courthouse, where long lines of lawyers and litigants waiting to clear security have been fairly common.
Friedland said of the renovations, "For us it's critically important that the Southern District be at full operational status. The shared courtroom is a model that doesn't work and this gets us back to making sure that everything can be heard in a timely manner."
The Southern District grand jury will return to the old courthouse, and a reshuffling and reconstruction of office space will continue over the next 18 months, as temporary chambers will be broken down and the district's Probation and Pretrial Services departments will return from their temporary quarters in the Woolworth Building.
Returning to the Marshall courthouse from the Woolworth Building are the circuit's staff attorneys, as well as attorneys with the court's Civil Appeals Management Program, which explores pre-argument settlement in all federal agency cases, save a subset of immigration cases.
Jacobs said that, when architect Gilbert got the commission, it became "the first courthouse built by the United States entirely for use as a courthouse and not as post office or a custom house as well."
The building initially also housed the Southern District U.S. Attorney's Office, and Jacobs said that Gilbert "invented a system of hallways that became a template for other federal and state courthouses" with separate elevators and hallways "that serve the judges, the public and persons in custody in criminal cases."
Jacobs said there may be a mention of the move when the circuit returns today but there will be no ceremony.
Nonetheless, Jacobs said he and some fellow judges made a bow to history after the last session of the Second Circuit at the ceremonial courtroom at 500 Pearl St. on Dec. 21, where, for the last six years, the circuit's busts of Judges Henry J. Friendly and Learned Hand have sat while the circuit heard oral arguments.