All Rise: The New Carmel Courthouse is Now in Operation

5/5 - (2 votes)

February/March 2024

In the heart of Carmel, Indiana, a lively city buzzing with growth and innovation, the dawn of a new era in justice and law enforcement emerges as construction wraps up on a groundbreaking project: the creation of a state-of-the-art courthouse and the expansion of the Carmel Police Department designed by Dan Moriarity with Studio M Architecture & Planning in Carmel, Indiana.

A Timeless Fusion of Architecture and Technology

Rooted in the spirit of progress yet steeped in respect for tradition, the new courthouse symbolizes the seamless fusion of technology and timeless architectural elegance. As the foundation was laid and the blueprints took shape, a modern judiciary and law enforcement facility began to materialize, promising to honor the intricate nuances of vintage courtroom design while embracing the cutting-edge advancements that define our contemporary world.

New Carmel Courthouse

I was given a comprehensive tour of both the new court and Carmel Police Department expansions by the Honorable Brian G. Poindexter, Carmel City Court Judge. The public entrance to the city court and police department faces Range Line Road, with the court located on the second floor.

Upon entry, the public undergoes screening. The main corridor is adorned with elegantly understated chandeliers chosen to complement the building’s structure and purpose. The records window is equipped with bullet-resistant leaded glass, and interview rooms are located downstairs after passing through security. Throughout the tour, I explored both the new front side of the police enterprise and the second level, which houses both the front and back of the court enterprise.

The building provides ample office space for both CPD and city court personnel, along with a fully equipped training room featuring world-class technology. Abundant security measures and advanced technological features are integrated throughout the facility. Specifically, there is a dedicated “drone deck” for CPD’s use, allowing for the launch and operation of drones, as well as an additional deck adjacent to the fully equipped break room that provides a relaxing space for CPD personnel to unwind.

As I entered the new courtroom, I imagined the late Raymond Burr as the iconic Perry Mason walking through the swinging gate doors that separate agents of the court from the public gallery.

Besides the impressive IT features equipping this 21st-century courtroom, the decorative elements provide a charming nod to an era when American courtrooms were both functional and architectural masterpieces.

Judge Poindexter discussed the meticulous planning and consideration that went into designing the new courtroom and building, ensuring that it caters not only to present needs but also anticipates future requirements.

Poindexter shared, “The architects had been given instructions in terms of creating a forward-facing building that everybody would be proud of from the exterior because this is the only public-facing building on the [city governance] campus. The public drives by this building every day…it is the new face of the court and police department. We [the stakeholders] wanted to put in the qualities that make it memorable and functional.”

The judge also explained that as part of building for the future, the jury box was specifically designed for potential major jury trials.

“In the event that this court or jurisdictions were elevated, we could hold major jury trials here,” Poindexter stated. “We planned and built for the future.”

The courtroom boasts 96-inch monitors capable of displaying various content such as security camera feeds, dash cam footage from Carmel officers, and body cam footage. Additionally, there’s a sophisticated electronic device enabling witnesses to indicate on photographs and maps where events occurred. The courtroom is equipped with a DVD player and USB port for multimedia playback, ensuring compatibility with various formats. Importantly, the courtroom’s projection system is separate from the city’s computer network, minimizing the risk of virus contamination. Measures are in place to ensure that any broadcasted content remains unaltered and is used only within the appropriate parameters.

Unique and Necessary Features                                                 

The balconies overlooking Range Line Road offer a picturesque view, ideal for various events. Designed with CarmelFest in mind, the balconies serve multiple purposes: protecting the building’s concrete and steel structure, acting as a barrier for vehicles, and safeguarding the front approaches to the building.

What I hope was the last time I traveled via this entrance; as part of the last leg of the tour, Judge Poindexter escorted me through the sally port. The sally port serves as a secure entryway to the enclosure. Historically, from around 1600 to 1900, a sally port also referred to a dock where boats picked up or dropped off their crews.

There is also a secure garage area with a separate elevator for inmate transportation. This area serves as the secure entry and exit point for both inmates and law enforcement personnel.

Lastly, on the lower level is a fully equipped exercise area with nicely appointed locker facilities for both men and women (CPD) personnel. Additionally, there’s a sports medicine clinic available for use by the CPD.

I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and believe the new courthouse is another exceptional example of architecture and ingenuity. It suits Carmel perfectly for its current needs and will continue to do so well into the future.