AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than a decade since State Senator Sarah Eckhardt worked out of the Heman Sweatt Travis County Courthouse, she remembers one day clearly.

“Sitting on benches outside [Judge] Susan Sheppard’s office, negotiating a protective order between two people, one of whom was in an orange jumpsuit,” she recalled.

The then- county attorney worried about the child involved in the case having to face the assailant.

“Because there was no place to put this child, we asked Judge Sheppard if the child and the grandmother could hang out in her chambers while we negotiated the protective order on the bench outside,” Eckhardt said.

She said that was around 2006, and the challenge with space at the courthouse have gotten “so much more ridiculous from there.”

That’s one of the biggest problems the county’s new Civil and Family Courts Facility will address, right down the street from the old one on Guadalupe Street.

According to a county press release, the building has 25 courtrooms, including 15 jury courtrooms, six non-jury courtrooms, one child protective services courtroom, one special proceedings courtroom and two State of Texas Attorney General child support hearing rooms.

Travis County civil presiding judge Lora Livingston said their current building only has 18 courtrooms, and some offices are actually retrofitted closets.

“We have to pick and choose what case we decide is going to be heard by what Judge in what room in the old courthouse,” she said. “Here, we can simply assign a case; it doesn’t matter. All of the court rooms are large enough and adequately staffed and adequately outfitted with technology to accomplish any kind of case.”

Right now, most services are in the Heman Marion Sweatt Courthouse, which opened in 1931.

The county said it’s been working on these plans for more than a decade.

Livingston also said they’ll be able to use upgraded technology in the new building.

Although she said it won’t help get through cases faster– because there’s a bigger workload with a growing population– it’ll make cases more efficient.

“The use of technology will help us simply be more efficient in the way that we present evidence to the courts to juries,” she explained.

A county spokesperon says staff will start moving into the new Civil and Family Courts Facility in January.

Cases are expected to start being heard there in February.

Earlier this year, in-person jury trials resumed in Travis County after being halted due to a COVID-19 spike in the area. But a backlog in criminal cases continued to grow.

In February, an official with the Travis County Criminal Courts Administration said 238 jury trials were pending in the district courts, while 399 were pending in the county courts at law.

Livingston said civil and family cases don’t have a significant backlog.