The North Dakota Judicial Branch needs approximately twice as much space as it currently has in Bismarck to meet expected needs over the next 5-10 years.
At a meeting of the state's Government Services Committee April 2, State Court Administrator Sally Holewa presented a study showing that the judicial branch needs an additional 24,660 square feet of space for offices, workstations, a conference room, storage, staff training and to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
The study was commissioned by the judicial branch and analyzed the needs of the Supreme Court, the Clerk of the Supreme Court, the Board of Law Examiners, the Law Library, Central Legal Services, and the Office of the State Court Administrator. The study was designed to identify current unmet needs as well as projected needs for the next 5-10 years.
Currently, judicial branch facilities are located in 21,604 square feet of space in the capitol's judicial wing and another 8,400 square feet in a downtown Bismarck building. An additional 4,000 square feet has been offered to the judicial branch in the capitol. Holewa said that this new space will be used for conference rooms and space for training and education.
Holewa said that there are two main options to meeting the judicial branch's larger space needs: clearing more space in the judicial wing or building a new facility.
Holewa said the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services would need to vacate much of their current space in the judicial wing to provide enough space to meet the judicial branch's needs.
In response to a suggestion that a new building for the judicial branch could be built on the Bank of North Dakota property, Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle said that he "would not want the Court to be separated geographically from the other branches of government."
Holewa said that if no permanent solution were found to satisfy judicial branch space needs, functions would continue to be splintered off into rented office space in Bismarck. Holewa said this separation of staff creates loss of efficiency.
April 2, 2014