By Marlena Hartz : Freedom Newspapers
Cramped and insecure in the Curry County Courthouse, the 9th Judicial District Court needs a new home, according to the court’s chief judge, Teddy Hartley.
Building a judicial complex is a “project we must begin in earnest,” Hartley told Curry County commissioners last week.
Growth of the court and modern-day security risks necessitate the construction of a judicial complex, he said.
The District Court budget has grown from $80,000 in the 1990s to $3.7 million in 2007, he said. The number of court employees has nearly tripled in the last three years, from 23 to 42, he said. One district judge currently has no office, and only more growth is anticipated, he said.
Security in Curry County courts is lagging compared with courts elsewhere in the state, he said.
“I am not in fear all the time, but we would be loathe to have someone shot in this (court),” Hartley said.
Local, state and federal funds would likely be needed to build a judicial complex, which could cost more than $10 million depending on its features, Hartley said.
Curry County commissioners decided to form an exploratory committee for the judicial complex.
“Unfortunately, (you’re) locked into an infrastructure that may not be appropriate for the business you do today,” Curry County Commissioner Tim Ashley told Hartley during last week’s Commission meeting.