D.C. officials have spent more than $5 million to renovate the Superior Court complex, including building a glass facade, installing new landscaping, adding high-tech courtrooms and state-of-the-art, X-ray machines to screen for weapons.
Yet, despite all of the upgrades — or maybe because of them — courthouse officials still can’t seem to keep out one group of pesky trespassers: rodents.
E-mails around the courthouse have been circulating for more than a month, as employees have complained about mice and their droppings. Nothing is immune. They have been found in jury rooms, courtrooms and any other places the critters can find warmth or food.
A system-wide e-mail sent on March 29 alerted courthouse employees about the visitors:
“Please be assured that we are aware of the rodent problem in the building and we have been working with court administration to deal with the problem,” the e-mail, from a court director, said. “If you notice rodent droppings in your area, please report it to your supervisors and they will coordinate with the exterminators.”
Long-time court employees and regular visitors say they have seen mice and rats outside the courthouse for years. The rodents could be seen darting across the courtyard or plaza levels, sprinting from one leafy bush to another. But now employees are noticing the rodents inside.
It’s likely, court officials say, that the renovations have merely displaced the rodents and caused them to seek sanctuary.
“Construction activity, at the courts as with most other buildings, can cause disruptions such that rodents seek indoor shelter,” spokeswoman Leah Gurowitz said. “This happens periodically at the courthouse, and we respond by engaging pest control services, by reminding employees to keep their workplace free of food items, and by increasing the number of trash collections per day.”
Still one court employee is taking no chances. The worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she feared retribution from top court officials, has removed all belongings from the floor and has her feet resting on a box. She also has placed two glue traps around her desk.
“The last thing I need is for one of those things to run across my feet and I start screaming and one of these police officers or marshals reaches for their gun,” the employee said. “I’m just trying to be proactive.”