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An announcement by Salt Lake County Attorney David Yocom that he favors consolidating criminal courts in Murray instead of downtown Salt Lake City has taken the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce by surprise.

As a result, Fred S. Ball, chamber president, told Yocom in a letter that the proposal to relocate some of the courts in Murray "goes completely against all the work and agreements that have been made by the many organizations and people involved in this issue."He said the chamber, the Salt Lake Downtown Alliance and the Utah Division of Facilities Construction and Management favor building a courts complex on the block bounded by 400 and 500 South and State and Main streets. Mayor Deedee Corradini said the Legislature has supplied $3 million, the city has paid $3 million and the property has been purchased.

"Locating the facility in Murray or any other non-downtown location would severely impact Salt Lake City. As the capital city of Utah, Salt Lake needs to be the site for this facility. It is were not for the State Capitol Building, there would be no identification of Salt Lake being the capital city," Ball said in a letter to Yokum.

Ball said the state has built several departmental buildings away from downtown Salt Lake City. "These facilities should have been built in an area that is conducive to improving the business climate, establishing identity as a state capital, in locations that provide amenities and services for employees and provide convenience to constituents," said Ball.

Several days ago, Yocom replied to a television editorial and said the county doesn't oppose relocating appellate courts and other courts downtown but doesn't want the criminal courts located in the complex.

"The county believes it would be less costly to build a criminal justice complex to house a new jail, criminal courts, prosecutors, defenders and others in a less expensive area. Assigning judges to a criminal justice complex would save taxpayers millions over the cost of transporting prisoners and building costly office buildings in a downtown location," Yocom said.

Ball said the chamber will do all in its power to ensure the downtown site is the choice for the courts complex.