The Courthouse which can be found at 436 Grant Street was erected in 1884 under the direction of Henry Hobson Richardson. The current courthouse is actually the third courthouse of Allegheny County. The first of which was built of wooden was replaced in 1841 with a much more sturdy structure made of gray sandstone. The poor construction lead to corrosion caused by coal smoke. In the spring of 1882, a fire broke out and ruined the building. The current courthouse is built with large rusticated blocks of granite making for a heavy, stable dignified apperance.
It is the responsibility of Criminal Court to adjudicate all criminal charges brought in Allegheny County. The role of the Sheriff in the Criminal Court System is an important one. Deputy Sheriffs are assigned to courtrooms, and have the responsibility of maintaining custody of incarcerated defendants who are required to appear before the Court.
In many cases more than one Deputy may be required to maintain security, depending on the particular circumstances of each individual trial. At times, as many as a dozen deputies have been assigned to a Courtroom.
The Adult Section of Family Court, located at 440 Ross Street, Pittsburgh, has jurisdiction in family matters which involve such types of cases as non-support of spouses, indigent parents and children, complaints of custody or visitation rights, divorces and annulments and protection from abuse.
Sheriff's deputies provide security in all courtrooms and counseling offices, and they process, detain and escort to court all individuals who have been arrested by the Sheriff's Office, or those who respond to a notice by the Sheriff to appear in court.
This area of the Court is a very sensitive one due to the nature of the circumstances which bring individuals to the Court. Emotions usually run high, and tempers are easily ignited in such an atmosphere. For this reason, Deputies assigned to this section are selected for their abilities to exercise tact and understanding in the performance of their duties.
For the same reasons, the Sheriff's Office maintains a high level of security awareness in this division. All persons entering the Family Court facilities are required to first pass through a security check-point, including a walk-through metal detector.
This branch of the Court handles cases involving individuals under the age of 18.
Deputies assigned to Juvenile Court are responsible for the transportation of in-custody juveniles between Shuman Center and the Court which is located in the Family Court Facility, 440 Ross Street, Pittsburgh. Along with maintaining the safety and security of all Court participants, deputy sheriffs also transport juveniles to and from various detention facilities throughout Pennsylvania
The Sheriff’s Office has the responsibility to provide security services to “Night Court” in the Municipal Courts Building.
During normal Monday through Friday working hours, police officers outside the City of Pittsburgh take arrested persons to the local District Justice for arraignment. During all other hours and on weekends, police officers take arrested persons to Night Court for arraignment. Night Court is currently located in the Municipal Courts Building in downtown Pittsburgh.
The Municipal Courts Building opened in mid-December 1995. Tenants include Arraignment Court, City Court, Domestic Violence Court, Housing Court, Night Court, Traffic Court, the City Police Radio Room and ID Administration.
Night Court is administered by the County, and was allocated space under terms of a 1991 Cooperation Agreement between the City, the County, the URA and the Public Parking Authority.
In July 1995, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court compelled all counties to provide 24-hour arraignment services. Night Court meets the conditions of the Court’s order.
It was agreed that the County would provide security arrangements for Night Court. Security includes security within the courtrooms, security in transfer of arrested persons during the arraignment process, and first response in the event of an emergency or disturbance. Inasmuch as the Sheriff’s Office is the traditional law enforcement arm of the courts, this responsibility was given to the Sheriff’s Office from 4:00 PM to 8:00 AM on Monday through Friday, and 24-hours a day on all weekends and holidays.
Under special circumstances the Sheriff's Office may be required to provide security in Orphans Court, or to present before the Court individuals who are to be considered for involuntary, court-ordered commitment to various hospitals or institutions, or who are appearing in cases where a determination will be made as to adult competency or the termination of parental rights.