Chatham County Justice Center Opens in Pittsboro
News imageThe Chatham County courts and North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts are excited to announce the opening of the new Chatham County Justice Center. The new location features a one-stop center for court business.

The Justice Center officially opened on Wednesday, January 2, with the grand opening ceremony on Friday, January 4. Supreme Court Chief Justice Sarah Parker attended and made remarks at the ceremony, and NCAOC Director Judge John W. Smith attended as well. The ceremony included a ribbon cutting, ceremonial session of superior court, and public tours.

The building will house all courtrooms and court officials, including the district attorney's office, the public defender, judges, clerk of superior court office, Chatham 360, Community Corrections, Department of Juvenile Justice, Guardian ad Litem, Probation Services, and Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities. The Justice Center also includes four courtrooms on two floors, of which three courtrooms have jury boxes and share a jury assembly room a first for Chatham County with seats for more than 100 people.

A larger clerk of superior court office includes a waiting room, staff training room, locked evidence storage room, and a separate hearing room. The clerk's office also has additional space for processing paperwork, storing files and accepting payments. Clerk of Superior Court Sam Cooper and staff began moving into the new building in mid-December while the finishing touches and construction were being completed, and are excited for the new space.

"We're going to have the luxury of space, and it will be its own experiment to some degree about the influence of space on behavior," Cooper said. "I would expect it to be a positive influence."

The 90,000-square-foot courthouse was constructed for about $21 million and features a classical design with white columns. The Justice Center is located at 40 East Chatham Street in Pittsboro, only about one block from the previous Courthouse Annex Building. The phone number for the clerk of superior court (919-545-3500) will remain the same, as will normal office functions and hours (8:30 a.m. 5:00 p.m.).

The building features tighter security, including 109 security cameras, one public entrance with X-ray scanners, and metal detectors. Court officials will also have secure parking with a separate entrance. The facility has large inmate holding cells, individual courtrooms accessible by a secure elevator, and interview rooms for defendants to talk privately with attorneys and court officials.

The courthouse integrates the latest technology with $380,000 in audiovisual and courtroom technology. Wireless touch panels and monitors will improve court efficiencies, and allow judges to share information quickly and control the lights and audiovisuals.

Additional building highlights include oversize windows and mezzanines for natural light, solar water heating, and more than 100 geothermal wells for heating and air conditioning. Also, "Bob the Pig," a smoky figurine that survived the 2010 courthouse fire, has moved into a new glass home with a commemorative plaque in the judges' suite.

Information sourced from The News & Observer.
Publish Date: 01/04/2013