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Now and then: 100 years of Vernon courthouse history

Vernon Courthouse
March 19, 2014 - 2:27 PM

VERNON - One of the first trials heard in the Vernon courthouse, which turns 100 this spring, involved an argument over the building’s own construction.

In December, 1914, the new, some said overly lavish, $198,876 courthouse finally opened its doors. The Smith Lumber Company alleged that Burns & Son, the contractors who built the courthouse, ripped them off for $458 in extra material. An article in The Vernon News says “a great deal of evidence was taken on both sides” with proceedings continuing even on a Saturday. In the end, the lumber company’s claim was dismissed.

The first trial, published in the newspaper under the headline ‘An Interesting Case’ revolved around a German reservist charged with attempting to persuade members of the 'B.C. Horse' to desert the service of His Majesty. The accused allegedly invited the men to a dance in Oyama, where they spent the night. The judge said there was “absolutely no case” against the accused. Also heard in court that first week was a trial over the rightful owner of a “dark brown horse.”

Much has changed since those early days. In the past couple years, the Vernon courthouse has witnessed trials involving dangerous driving, online luring and a care home murder. But the history remains.

To learn more about the courthouse’s history and how the justice system works today, the public is invited to an open house Saturday April 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The courthouse holds an annual open house as part of Law Days, but this year will be something special, Vernon Bar Association president Rob Culos says.

“The first time I came through Vernon almost 30 years ago I remember being so impressed by the courthouse,” says Culos, who has practiced law in Vernon for 20 years. “When I walk up those steps, no matter what I’m there to do, I love walking into that building—it’s magnificent.”

Various agencies involved in the administration of justice, from Crime Stoppers to restorative justice groups, will be at the open house to answer questions. Mock trials conducted by high school students will recreate the types of trials that transpired there over the years.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call 250-309-5230.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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