Hennepin County Government Center

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Hennepin County Government Center
The Hennepin County Government Center is the courthouse and primary county government administration building for Hennepin County in the State of Minnesota. It is located in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, the county seat of Hennepin County. Before its construction, the Hennepin County government offices were housed in the Minneapolis City Hall.

The building was designed by the architectural firm of John Carl Warnecke & Associates. It was dedicated in 1973 and completed in 1977. It is 403 feet (123 meters) tall and has 24 stories. When viewed from the Northeast or Southwest sides, it takes on the appearance of a stylized letter H. This shape serves as the logo of Hennepin County. Each side of the "H" is a separate tower. The towers are connected by catwalk bridges on several floors. The whole is enclosed by glass windows to form an atrium. The Southeast side is known as the court tower. It houses courtrooms, county attorney offices, and the Hennepin law library. The Northwest side houses county administrative offices such as social services and county records.

The Hennepin County Government Center is built over 6th Street using the air rights over the street, which enabled two large plazas to be built in the city blocks. It is connected by a tunnel to the Minneapolis City Hall, underneath 5th Street and the Hiawatha Line. The Government Plaza Hiawatha line station is between the two buildings. The tunnel also connects to the federal courthouse for the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. The building has skyway links to the Thrivent (formerly Lutheran Brotherhood) headquarters building and the US Bank Plaza Building (formerly Pillsbury Center). There is a separate secure tunnel to the Hennepin County Adult Detention ( jail) center located diagonally across the plaza.

Before its construction, the Hennepin County government offices were housed in the Minneapolis City Hall. After earlier suicides by jumping from the catwalk bridges, 6-foot high glass wall panels were added to the bridges & balconies throughout the building. One additional suicide occurred after this, when a person pulled seating benches onto a catwalk, climbed on top of them, and jumped over the glass walls. Following a deadly shooting within the court tower in 2003, new security measures were implemented. New metal detectors were installed, along with X-ray equipment. The 2nd-floor lobby service desks at the skyway level were re-configured to accommodate the changes. The building was the site of a performance by French tight-rope walker Philippe Petit.

Notable legal actions
The following are a list of notable legal actions that were held in the Hennepin County Government Center:
  • December 2008–January 2009 – Former Minnesota Vikings football player Carl Eller was found guilty of assault on a police officer and refusal to take a sobriety test when he was pulled over by a police officer in April 2008.
  • August 2007 – Idaho Senator Larry Craig plead guilty misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct steming from an arrest on June 11, 2007 in the men's bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
  • December 2005 – former Women's National Basketball Association Michele Van Gorp filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against a member of the Lynx's medical staff and three other parties seeking at least $50,000 for negligence and loss of employment.
  • 2003 – Ari David Levie was convicted of solicitation of a child to engage in sexual conduct, in a case that helped establish that the presence of such PGP encryption software on a computer may be viewed as evidence of criminal intent.
  • March 1994–January 1995 – Michael Olson was convicted of murder and Dennis Tate of second-degree murder for the 1993 killing of Brian Glick in Bloomington.
  • 1988 – In Cohen v. Cowles Media Co., Dan Cohen was awarded damages after a newspaper broke its promise not to name him as the source of inculpatory evidence concerning a politician. He had been fired from his job at an advertising agency because of the publicity resulting from the identification of the source. The United States Supreme Court ruled in Cohen's favor in 1991.