The 1st District Court of Appeals will be sitting pretty come this winter, in what the St. Petersburg Times calls the “Taj Mahal” of Tallahassee. At a time when court workers are losing jobs and the budget is a mess, people are enraged as the construction that will give each judge a 60 inch flat screen, a kitchen, and a granite bathroom in each personal chamber.
The state budget has been cut consistently since 2007 and now the government will not only have to pay for this giant palace but also come up with over $1 million in annual rent, something the former home of the 1st District Appeals Court didn’t have. So how did this obscene example of excess make the cut? Some say secretive backroom dealings.
The funding for the new courthouse was added to the transportation bill as a last minute amendment in the 2007 session. It was hidden somewhere in the middle and many lawmakers who passed the transportation bill weren’t even aware the amendment was in there.
It seems beyond that, there’s a whole lot of finger pointing at who’s to blame. The old court building is being given to the FSU law school and supporters of the school may have had some hands in the lobbying.
The former Supreme Court Chief Judge at the time says that the entire deal shocked him and that he attempted to set up meetings with all parties to stop the construction, to no avail. He even states he asked the Governor to veto the item but Governor Crist states he doesn’t recall that request.
Having a beautiful courthouse is no doubt a nice touch. However, this one seems to be a bit over the top. This article even states that some of the judges who will be working there are “embarrassed” at the excess.
When state employees in the courthouse worry about whether or not they will have a job next month and other courthouses across the state struggle to work without the luxury of air conditioning or even amidst rodent infestation—this building is a shame.
The average Floridian will never see this courtroom. It’s a Court of Appeals and the vast majority of criminal cases never make it this far. Instead they are handled in the older buildings, often crowded with multiple defendants all waiting their turn to be heard before the judge.
A courtroom is an intimidating place and when you are facing charges you are likely to feel the pressure. Does the judge have time to even hear what you have to say? Will he care that this was just an honest mistake?
These are the types of questions you shouldn’t have to answer alone. A defense attorney at your side can help you feel confident when you go before the judge and advocate so that you are represented in the best light possible.
If you’re facing charges and concerned about your court dates—contact us for a free consultation on your case and we can discuss your options.