I suppose we should talk former Chief Judge Joel Brown too:
As the former chief judge of Miami-Dade Circuit Court, I do know what will happen if our community fails to support this project. The existing 90-year-old Dade County Courthouse is not only an eyesore and a disgrace to the dignity of our system of justice, it is also in grave risk of either being closed due to condemnation or having some part of the building cease to function for months on end due to colossally inevitable repairs.
And then what? Since the entire circuit is operated as a single unit, the courtrooms in the downtown building will no longer be available, and that by necessity will create a ripple effect in the other courthouses. This will lead to slowdowns and stoppages of civil business disputes, criminal prosecutions, injury cases, divorce and custody matters, domestic violence cases, juvenile and dependency matters where foster child placements may be delayed, and significant delays in decisions as to who either goes to or stays in jail.
The civil trials will be moved throughout the system, and each division of the courts will be impacted. The criminal, family and juvenile courts will all experience a slowdown as they will need to share their courtrooms and facilities with 260 clerks of court, the 25 circuit civil judges and the five civil county judges. The 936,000 yearly visitors and 65,000 yearly jurors who come to the civil courthouse will have to be dispersed to our criminal, juvenile and family courthouses.
Essentially the entire gamut of how we in this country decide what is right and wrong will be delayed.Now back to Judge Walsh:
Denying or even delaying this new courthouse will be a stain on us for decades.
As a circuit court judge, I read with interest the Herald recommendation that the bond referendum on the ballot for funding to replace our 90-year-old courthouse isn’t yet ready for a Yes vote.
The suggestion is that somehow it’s feasible for us to relegate our court dockets to satellite courthouses and hearings in cyberspace.Fellas, relax -- and your complaint is what exactly?
Each of the satellite county court judges handles thousands of cases in their divisions such as in Coral Gables, where each judge handles 7,000 cases. Where would the 41 judges of circuit court go to conduct court?
Miami-Dade has the distinction of holding court in the oldest courthouse in the state. Each county in our state maintains a court system that’s safe, hygienic, structurally sound and adequate — except Miami-Dade County.
It’s not my place to question why, but it’s shameful that every day, the people who need our courts endure mold, structural damage, asbestos, dust, and flooding. Jurors, 800 per week, share three public restrooms.
Our elevators break down, the air conditioning system dates to the 1950’s and 41 judges share 22 courtrooms and this number is dwindling as courtrooms are sealed off to address mold and asbestos complaints.
Seriously, the Herald's "caution" that we need to better think through a plan for construction means only one thing -- the Herald was not adequately consulted in advance on a plan for construction.
(Jorge, why did we not get Herald buy-in in advance?)
But, as Judge Butchko says, we're not building a rocket ship to Mars -- it's a building.
When you consider all the lame-brained projects that have gotten routinely approved (and funded) in our County and which provide next-to-no public benefit, the notion that we need to conduct further study before we can conclude that a new courthouse is needed is just political hogwash.
What it will mean is further delay, further deprivations of justice, and a different set of interests to be greased -- ten or more years down the road.