577,000 Square-Foot Facility Completed Early and $30 Million Under Budget
Wake County Commissioners were joined by other local officials to celebrate the opening of the Wake County Justice Center on Monday, July 1, 2013. In an opening ceremony, speakers highlighted the importance of the facility to the public and the generational impact it will have on the community.
"Everyone in Wake County should be proud of the opening of the Justice Center. It is a monumental achievement," said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Joe Bryan. "It serves as a prominent place for residents to participate in the judicial system, access public records and engage in local government activities. This building will meet the growing needs of the court system and other public services for the next 50 years.
"We are particularly proud that the building was completed several months ahead of the original schedule and more than $30 million under budget. It also provides increased security and meets green building standards."
The Justice Center is 577,000 square feet and provides public meeting space for the Board of Commissioners and administrative space for the County Manager, County Attorney, Finance and Budget, Register of Deeds, Revenue/Assessor and other support functions.
The high-rise building has 19 new courtrooms, and associated support spaces, with the capacity to add four additional courtrooms in the future. It will house all of Wake County's criminal courtrooms. Civil and Family Court proceedings will continue to be held in the existing courthouse.
"The proximity of the two courthouses in downtown Raleigh accomplishes two vital functions," said Wake County Clerk of Superior Court N. Lorrin Freeman. "Maximizing efficiency for court staff, attorneys and law enforcement; and providing victims, families, and residents the access to the court-related services they require."
The Justice Center features many improvements over the existing Wake County Courthouse that opened in 1969. The Justice Center has 17 elevators – 10 for public use – along with an escalator, to facilitate movement between floors. Courtrooms will have adequate space for public seating, while remaining efficient and secure.
"The availability of more courtrooms means that inmates will move through the judicial system more quickly, freeing up beds and saving taxpayers money." said Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison. "The security features in the Justice Center mean safer environments for the public, for court officials, for officers and for inmates."
The Justice Center substantially improves security by separating public uses from inmates and court officials. Security features include separation of staff, inmate and public populations; weapons screening through x-ray and metal detectors; emergency duress buttons and secure corridors.
Each person entering the Justice Center is required to go through security screening. Weapons and items such as mace, scissors and knives are prohibited in the Justice Center. Small items that could be used as weapons including sewing kits, nail clippers and aerosol sprays (such as hairspray) are also prohibited.
The Justice Center features many environmental benefits. The building was designed and built to achieve certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. This Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification means the building is environmentally responsible, energy-efficient and a healthy place for staff and the public. The Justice Center has water-efficient plumbing, collection and storage of recyclables on-site, improved ventilation and high-quality indoor air, durable long-lasting building materials and products, lots of natural daylight versus powered light, LED light fixtures and building energy management systems that will reduce ongoing operating costs.
Following the ceremony, visitors were invited to tour the first three floors of the Justice Center. The opening day also included a ceremonial joint session of district and superior court and the Board of Commissioners' first meeting in the new boardroom, Room 2700.
Other county government and courts services are located nearby in the Wake County Office Building and Wake County Courthouse. All three buildings are open Monday through Friday. The below list indicates which services are in which building.
Court and Court Services
300 S. Salisbury St.
- Clerk of Court – Administration
- Clerk of Court – Criminal Division
- Clerk of Court – Traffic/Criminal Case Cashier
- Criminal and Traffic Courts
- District Attorney's Office
- District Court Judges' Office
- Division of Community Corrections – Probation Intake
- Jury Service
- Public Defender's Office
- Superior Court Judges' Office
301 S. McDowell St.
- Budget and Management Services
- Commissioners' Meeting Room
- County Attorney
- County Commissioners
- County Manager
- Finance (and Bids)
- Marriage and Vital Records
- Public Affairs Office
- Register of Deeds
Wake County Office Building
316 Fayetteville St.
- Civil, Small Claims, Juvenile and Family Courts
- Clerk of Court – Civil Division (including Domestic Violence unit)
- Clerk of Court – Estates Division
- Clerk of Court – Special Proceedings Division
- Custody Mediation
- Family Court Office
- Juvenile Court Counselor's Office
- Trial Court Administrator's Office
337 S. Salisbury St.
- Board of Elections
- Child Support
- Community Services
- Permits/Inspections Administration
- Parks, Recreation and Open Space
- Environmental Services
- Solid Waste
- Water Quality
- Express Library Fayetteville St.
- Facilities Design and Construction
- Guardian Ad Litem
- Human Resources
- Information Services
- Permits/Plans Review
- Planning, Development and Inspections
A video about the Justice Center from groundbreaking to completion is available on the Wake County YouTube channel www.YouTube.com/WakeGOV
. Further details about the Justice Center, such as parking and courtroom information are available here