Investigating the Coles County Courthouse
By Olivia Lamberti, Olivia Homel, and Eric Vaughn
CHARLESTON IL, June 23 — The Coles County Courthouse serves a small community that’s surprisingly big on crime.
“Most people who come here aren’t happy,” Judge James Glenn said. “[But] with all these legal minds at work, the right decision has to made.”
The courthouse maintains records ranging from modern murder trial evidence to nineteenth century land documentation.
While those on trial may be unsatisfied, most employees of the courthouse appreciate the importance of their job.
“Our system is so great,” Judge Glenn said. “It’s the best job in the world.”
Nineteenth century legal documents line the walls of an underground storage room. Records date back to Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.
Circuit clerk Melissa Herst reviews the conviction of a methamphetamine dealer. “Don’t do drugs,” Herst said. “All of our bad people are on drugs.”
Judge James Glenn talks to young journalists about the importance of his profession. “It is the best job in the world,” Judge Glenn said. “The choices I make directly impact the person’s life.”
The Coles County courthouse still stands today as the wheel of justice turns. Built in 1898, it remains a landmark in the small community of Charleston.
A 530 foot tunnel connects the Charleston court house to the jail. Because the tunnel is located undeground, it often floods and becomes muddy.