Tallahassee “Taj Mahal Courthouse” Judge Faces Ethics Probe
TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – In Tallahassee, they called it the Taj Mahal, a new district courthouse so elaborate, luxurious, and costly that the state was embarrassed. Now, the judge who pushed the project has been hauled up on judicial ethics charges.
The Judicial Qualifications Commission filed probable cause charges with the Florida Supreme Court Tuesday against 1st District Court of Appeal Judge Paul Hawkes.
Despite the fact that the courthouse project spent money the judges didn’t have, and went far beyond the original authorization for the building, the commission is only charging Judge Hawkes of violating judicial canons.
The commission said he was discourteous and impatient with state officials overseeing construction of the new building. He also is accused of having the project director dismissed for questioning its cost.
The courthouse Hawkes delivered a courthouse that cost taxpayers $50 million, far beyond the original $1.8 million approved to expand and improve the existing building.
The new courthouse was double the size of the old building, and included scads of exotic woods, luxury appointments, and fancy judicial suites.
Judge Hawkes has 20 days to file a formal response.