New Wake courthouse honors justice

July 1, 2013 

The official name is the Wake County Justice Center, but already it’s got the nickname that has held for such buildings for 100 years. In downtown, Raleigh, the gleaming high-rise with multiple entrances (it’s at Martin and Salisbury Streets and at Martin and McDowell, but don’t worry, you can’t miss it) is called simply “the new courthouse,” as opposed to the old courthouse, which will continue to house civil and family courts, juvenile services and estates and wills.

But the action from here on out will be in the new courthouse, with criminal courts and many county administrative functions.

The building is well thought out. For example, the busiest courts such as traffic court are on lower levels.

And there will be 10 public elevators in the new, 577,000-square foot building, and additional elevators for staff. That contrasts to the four elevators in the old building, which were, and this is not an exaggeration, legendary for their slowness. Justice delayed is justice denied? The elevators were, in that case, not a confidence builder in the proceedings going on upstairs.

The new place is a rarity in public buildings: at $183 million, it came in $30 million under budget.

Festivities at the christening Monday featured the standard speeches, but some pretty exceptional speeches as well, as a special session of court, including all District Court and Superior Court judges along with the members of the state Supreme Court was convened in new Courtroom 701. Chief Justice Sarah Parker’s talk on the rule of law touched on profound topics, as did remarks by two famed Raleigh attorneys, Robert McMillan and Wade Smith.

The real hope is that with greater operating efficiency, the judicial system will be more efficient and thus justice will be better served. Time to bring the curtain up, and the gavels down.

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