Courthouse no longer adequate

The Ninth Judicial District Court would like the citizens of Curry County to be appropriately informed as to the needs of the court in properly administering justice and providing equal access to justice for all citizens.

Curry County has a statutory duty to provide and maintain safe, adequate, and accessible facilities for the District Court.

The Curry County Courthouse was built in 1936 and was designed to house one judge, the county jail, and the county offices. The Curry County Courthouse is not an adequate, safe, accessible or functional courthouse for the operations of the District Court.

Over the years, many makeshift improvements have been made to make room for additional judges and staff. Due to the age and historic nature of the building, no thought was given to security, life safety, handicap accessibility or functionality with court growth.

The Curry County Courthouse is an antiquated building and has outgrown its intended purpose and its useful life.

• Only one courtroom was designed for a jury. One courtroom has makeshift jury accommodations. Others are hearing rooms and one judge has his chambers and hearing room in a converted building in the parking lot with no security.

• There are no secure hallways or holding cells. Prisoners use the same hallways, elevators, stairs, etc. as the public, lawyers, court staff, and judges, creating a risk of escape or harm to the public.

• There are numerous life safety and handicap accessibility issues that violate the fire code and the Americans with Disabilities Act. One judge, several attorneys and many jurors and members of the public have disabilities. Of major concern are the lack of accessible fire exits and an elevator that routinely breaks down. Court employees have had to carry handicapped individuals down the stairs.

• In 15 years, there may be six district judges, one child support hearing officer, one domestic violence commissioner, and 50 court employees.

In its recent study and needs assessment, the architectural firm hired by the Curry County commissioners concluded there is no reasonable and cost effective means to plan and provide adequate safety, accessibility, security, and functionality for the operations of a district court in the current Curry County Courthouse facility.

The Ninth Judicial District Court supports the recommendations of Rohde May Keller McNamara Architecture, P.C., to the Curry County Board of County Commissioners as to Phase I of its master plan and requests the citizens of Curry County ask their commissioners to fulfill Curry County’s legal obligations under state and federal law to provide an adequate, safe and accessible district courthouse for the citizens of Curry County.