Sunday, August 22, 2010

1st DCA

The 1st District Court, with 15 judges, is the state's largest, hearing appeals of cases from Jacksonville to Pensacola, and it hears all appeals involving the state.

The court began looking at a new building in 2006 after rejecting the possibility of expanding its existing, rent-free building in downtown Tallahassee.

Lawmakers say two 1st District judges, Chief Judge Paul Hawkes and Judge Brad Thomas, lobbied furiously for the new building. The two spent so much time walking the halls of the Legislature that some lawmakers wondered when they had time to be judges.

Florida Supreme Court Justice Fred Lewis, who was chief judge in 2007, says he was shocked to discover that the 1st District Court of Appeal judges, lawmakers and FSU had reached a "behind the scenes'' deal that approved a bond issue, gave the old courthouse to the FSU Law School and eliminated office space in the old building for the Office of State Courts Administrator.

Scheduled to be completed in November, it's a $48 million behemoth in which each judge will get a 60-inch LCD flat screen television in chambers (trimmed in mahogany), a private bathroom (featuring granite countertops) and a kitchen (complete with microwave and refrigerator). The Taj Mahal has an exercise room for the judges and COSTS $425 a square ft for the 112,000 building which will hold 112 employees (15 of them judges).