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Wake County breaks ground on new justice center

Posted May 10, 2010

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— Wake County leaders broke ground Monday afternoon on a justice center designed to be newer, bigger and safer – to replace the existing courthouse built in 1969.

Every day, approximately 5,000 people move among the 22 courtrooms of the Wake County Courthouse at Salisbury and Fayetteville streets in downtown Raleigh. More than 200,000 cases are filed there every year.

“With the volume of people coming in and the number of cases we have in Wake County, we literally are running out of room in our current space,” Clerk of Courts Lorrin Freeman said.

To meet the needs of a growing population and advances in security technology, county leaders allotted about $214 million for the 11-story, 577,000-square-foot Wake County Justice Center to be built at the intersections of Martin, McDowell and Salisbury streets.

The new facility would offer almost double the space – 22 more criminal courtrooms, 17 elevators and an escalator. It is expected to meet the county’s needs for the next 30 to 50 years.

The plan also involves improving security by keeping inmates separate from the public , which is something that doesn't happen now.

"It is not uncommon for jurors to get on an elevator with inmates, which is obviously a bit uncomfortable to some citizens," Chief District Judge Robert Rader said.

Some county commissioners were concerned about spending the money on construction in the midst of a recession, but they were convinced by the low interest rate they were able to get on the bonds for the project.

So far, the project is $26 million under the original estimate. It is expected to be complete as soon as 2013.

The current courthouse will continue to house civil court and family court.

Local leaders say the proximity of the two courthouses will maximize efficiency for court staff, attorney and law enforcement and also provide victims, families and citizens the access to the court-related services they require.


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  • dahman May 10, 2010

    wake county is going BUST!!!! mark my words, they re spending money like water. and what will be the fallout??.......people moving out of wake county, just like northern (USA) states and california........to escape the draconian tax burden.

  • no contest May 10, 2010

    mulecitybabe - I agree. Too many petty laws exist just to make money. And that will increase as government looks for more ways to generate revenue.

  • Lady Justice May 10, 2010

    So, for those of you who do not want the new Justice building, how do you propose we deal with the criminals who are on the court calendars every.single.day? It is IMPOSSIBLE to deal with 100+ people on each court's calendar each day already. Are we suppose to stop convicting criminals because the schools cannot budget their money? Are all the other parts of government suppose to stop existing??? The schools already get far more of the county's budget than any other entity out there.

  • luvbailey May 10, 2010

    Now if we could just get the state to build more cells.

  • gkgreene May 10, 2010

    Often wondered why we do not change court system to reduce facility and operating costs.

    Why not have it where if you are charged with speeding or other similar civil tickets - that's it you are charged and pay the fine (as well as get the insurance increase). Why allow so much time to be spent in court taking up this type of charge.

    How much could operations and facility costs be reduced if this were implemented. Who knows, may see insurance costs reduce for the drivers without tickets.

    Of course, the legal profession who control so much of our legislature and congress would never allow such a change since it would take money out of there pockets.

  • mulecitybabe May 10, 2010

    The majority of trials in the courthouse are for the sole purpose of making money. The court costs and fines related to minor marijuana possession, speeding, trespassing, etc are money makers. Sending criminals to prison is an expense. This courthouse is being built strictly as a money-maker. Don't think otherwise.

  • Banker Mommy May 10, 2010

    RK01, get over yourself. Obviously "crimnals" was a typo. See what I mean about picking a fight?
    Nasty comments about my education make you look like the one who is ignorant. And it takes away from whatever point you are trying to make.

  • disco2drivin May 10, 2010

    @RK01: You misspelled the word 'and'. :)

  • dwntwnboy May 10, 2010

    Some of you folks would cry about ANYTHING to help bring us into the next century. The courthouse was approved YEARS ago. They have been in this process for over 3 years already- the new parking deck was finished over a year ago- this is nothing new, we needed more court space- have ya been to the courthouse lately? It's way too small for the volume we have to handle in a city this size.We need to have updated courts to keep up with the rapid growth. The enlarged court complex will expedite court cases rather than have them back up for months or longer,waiting for space for the trial. This in turn will increase the number of cases/fines through the system and should increase revenue for everyone from parking to downtown restaurants.

  • John Sawtooth May 10, 2010

    I can solve the school budget problem in one swoop - since schools need to be built and funded in proportion to the students they serve, we will produce that money very directly.

    A child tax. We can even have several levels of taxation, since Pre-K have different needs from teenagers for example.

    See ? All fixed. ;-D