Crumbling Broward Courthouse Finally Closing






Today is the last day to enter the old Broward County Courthouse through its main entrance as contractors prepare to tear it down.

It’s about time!

The continued use of that crumbling building for decades past its use-by date is another testimony to how government works.

Or doesn’t work.

Broward County Commissioners tut-tutted about the problem for decades until then-Broward Mayor Stacy Ritter made a new courthouse a priority roughly eight years ago. Ritter — She is now the county’s tourism director — created a Courthouse Task Force and then rammed the long-delayed idea through.




Stacy Ritter


Instead of a replacement, commissioners before Ritter used a Band-Aid approach to the Courthouse problems.

The last major work on the courthouse was in the early 1990s, almost a generation ago. It was an era when there were less judges, less cases and less paperwork. Before the 1990s, the courthouse additions were built in 1970 and 1972.

In the 1990s, additions were sutured on the soon-to-close central courthouse building — a new criminal courts building on the north and a renovated eastern courthouse wing.

What was new then is old now.

The criminal courts building leaks and the eastern building is shabby. The older central courthouse building finally being demolished in is even worse shape.

Lawsuits allege it is a moldy building that sickens courthouse workers.



Broward County Courthouse:  Slated for demolition


The lawsuit allegations are no surprise to me. The building was already a dump when I was a cub reporter.

Tearing down the old state courthouse and replacing it is just a start. The leaky Federal Courthouse at NE Third Avenue and East Broward Boulevard also is circling the drain.

I covered the dedication of that federal building in 1979. It was an exercise in poor construction coupled with faulty social engineering.

The courthouse was built with large expanses of open space to cut down on the energy costs, a social goal of the Jimmy Carter Administration. No one in Washington considered whether courthouse folks wearing business suits would congregate in an open-air plaza facing south in soggy South Florida.

If judges, lawyers and others went inside to get out of the sun, they soon found out that the Federal Courthouse leaked. A lot.

Because of construction mistakes, some courtrooms and office have stripped out rugs and are today filled with buckets.

The Federal Courthouse desperately needs replacement, but where is the money going to come from? Downtown Fort Lauderdale business leaders believe a public/private partnership can construct a new building. Typical for government, that idea has percolated for years.

Don’t despair, bureaucrats and electeds say. Government doesn’t work like business, they say. It takes years to cobble together a consensus, track down the money, find the low bidders and start construction.

Case in point is the last state courthouse addition.

Michael A. Shiff – He was the go-to government architect in the Broward’s booming 1980s — first drafted a master plan that proposed the existing criminal courts building in 1983. The courthouse addition wasn’t completed until 1994.

So lawyers and judges don’t hold your breath. Instead, cross your fingers. Maybe you will get a new Federal Courthouse….someday.

Me, I’m still waiting for a Broward Convention Center hotel. I first heard about that one around 1980.


For Immediate Release                                                    April 27, 2017




Fort Lauderdale, FL – Effective Monday, May 1, 2017, the main entrance that courthouse visitors and staff alike have used for decades will close. The first floor entrance to the central wing of Broward’s Judicial Complex will be closed indefinitely as the court system continues to vacate the soon-to-be demolished building. Visitors to the Judicial Complex, in downtown Fort Lauderdale, will only be able to access the courthouse through the new west wing tower or the third floor rotunda in the east wing.


Though the entrance will be closed, courthouse users will still be able to exit at that location.



17 Responses to “Crumbling Broward Courthouse Finally Closing”

  1. a fool and his money says:

    Can’t shut down the old courthouse until you figure out how to bring prisoners in from the jail to courtrooms where they are needed in the new courthouse SAFELY.

    The geniuses who designed it forgot. And the geniuses supervising and spending (wasting?) the taxpayers’ money didn’t notice. Didn’t care…

  2. One who knows says:

    This is not a good idea (yet). The criminal county judges are still in the old building and will be for quite some time (from what I hear). Now to get to those courtrooms you either have to enter the new courthouse and walk up the ramp (yes – up the ramp because it starts on the 2nd floor of the new wing and ends on the 3rd floor of the north/felony wing). Or you can cross SE 3rd and cross back across the bridge. There will be a lot of very confused people – typical Broward!

  3. Rightwinger says:

    Will it crumble Madam Clerk also? Will
    Soon be time for her to step down.

  4. Old Timer says:

    Convention Center hotel was negotiated in 1978 with Don Peebles … a New York developer who is considering running for mayor up there.

  5. Speaking Out says:

    The new 20 story building was designed without input from people who had the right answers about needs and design. As beautiful as it is, there are a lot of defects. Y

    You don’t have car salesman design a hospital.

  6. PandaBear says:

    You’re right, Rightwinger! Soon she won’t be Forman’s wife anymore, which is the only reason she duped him into marrying her. He will also recover once he’s out of her reach.

  7. Chaz Stevens says:

    You don’t have car salesman design a hospital.

    No, I think we refer to them as architects.

  8. Mr. Safety says:

    Oh no! I just got a notice to show up for Jury Duty next Friday, May 5. I am worried.

  9. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    #8-says it all. I mean I feel bad for the people that called for jury duty. Where do you park?.Where do you go to get in?What is w/ this ramp I keep hearing about (should they bring roller skates? I mean go here,go there. I mean really. Same deal w/ the federal courthouse these lawyers all want(you pay for it) a new court house. Fort.lau should not pay one dime ,just cause its in Ft.Lau (move it, anywhere). The vast majority of residents did not even want this county court house. I can’t wait to see the art work they purchased(i’ll bet hundreds of thou). Can you see it now. Guy is in there for stabbing someone,but yet admires the Chagull on the wall(unreal). I hope they have at least say a greeter to tell you where to go. Will see. Per usual what a mess. PS. got to give a shout out to Charlie King(open up the Paper and there he is full color pic(wait) holding a LBGT> sign. You made my day..Boy Mayor Seiler your hot w/ Charlie -county, city, I bet you see him more than your wife).. Charlie, Charlie ,Charlie-or in other words mess,mess,mess……(by the way Mayor I hope we did not pay one dime for that mayor banner at the Prayer(next host a sweat lodge(sweat your sins away -then die. Too funny…..

  10. Jury duty says:

    Mr. Safety,
    No worries sir. You will be parking in the east garage, once parked, you will walk across the connector on third avenue which feeds into the jury room.
    Good Luck!
    And yes, it makes no sense to close the front doors to the old courthouse when county criminal, dependency, and magistrates are still located in that building. It will be next to impossible for a disabled person to walk or roll the distance and incline. And the navigation alone is very confusing.

  11. Speaking Out says:

    “No, I think we refer to them as architects.”

    Sorry, but with the design of the beautiful new building and all the flaws that are coming / will come to light, the comment
    “You don’t have a car salesman design a hospital.” is right on target.

    The architects might as well have been car salesman.

  12. tell the truth says:

    @#5. Speaking Out @7 Chaz
    The courthouse design began circa 2002 with BCC selection committee and Spillis Candela DMJM in Coral Gables. The same design architect then leading the parade who the county spent millions of dollars on design drawings still works there. AECOM bought the firm and tens of millions of dollars more were spent revising the drawings perhaps because of the site selection and smaller footprint once everyone had to get real with a tape measure. Sadly the firm hired a newly minted architect who will go unnamed who hustled his way into the VP position of running the design and construction and had never run a courthouse project. He addressed BCC over the years as lieberman and ritter rammed it thru after bond failed by citizen vote. If a firm has never designed a courthouse before there will be problems. County construction staff couldn’t review drawings to save their life. There was no GSA to oversee and no peer review so the debacle on paper went to bid with an $8,000,000.00 change order as soon as the contract was executed and ink was drying. Ten pounds of dog food only fits in an architect’s 5 lb. bag, not a savvy contractor, who then seized upon every deficiency and error in the uncoordinated CDs. Can’t blame them. Taxpayers cough up the cash. No different from any other county project in the last 20 years++ including the main library facade, airport and the airport runway, and just like the school board, even when just one story. How about some clawback on the millions of dollars in design oversights, errors and omissions? Not in broward. The firm will get another fat contract.

  13. One of the censored Old Hags says:

    Will these files be buried in the rubble?

    04/28/2017 Motion to Dismiss
    Party: Respondent Dixon Jenkins Forman, Brenda
    04/24/2017 Response to Motion
    Party: Petitioner Forman, Howard
    04/21/2017 Notice of Filing Designation of Emailing Addresses
    Party: Attorney Shields, Johanna
    04/21/2017 Motion to Stay
    Party: Respondent Dixon Jenkins Forman, Brenda
    04/17/2017 Notice of Hearing
    04/10/2017 Motion for Temporary Relief HUSBAND’S URGENT SECOND MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RELIEF (Support Monies
    Party: Petitioner Forman, Howard
    04/06/2017 Filing Fee Payor: JAMES M STARK ; Userid: CTS-fg/t ; Receipt: 20171FA1A047259;

    Amount: $409.00
    04/06/2017 Notice of Appearance
    Party: Respondent Dixon Jenkins Forman, Brenda
    04/06/2017 Notice of Unavailability
    Party: Respondent Dixon Jenkins Forman, Brenda
    04/06/2017 Motion to Make Court Records Confidential
    Party: Respondent Dixon Jenkins Forman, Brenda
    03/29/2017 Family Cover Sheet
    Party: Petitioner Forman, Howard
    03/29/2017 Notice of Related Cases
    03/29/2017 Motion for Temporary Relief (Return of Husband’s Vehicle, Medication, Personal Effects, and Restraining Order Relating to Marita
    Party: Petitioner Forman, Howard

  14. Berthabutt says:

    If the county lets the builder who screwed them at the airport, and screwed them on the court house, build the judicial parking garage, the he must have nude pictures of the county administrator.

  15. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    No photos…just lots of $$$$ Business as usual in Broward

  16. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @14 – Nude pictures are sooo last century!! Nowadays, everyone has a sex tape. And as Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, etc. have proven, sex tapes are the new key to fame and fortune!

  17. Jeimias Powerb says:

    While packing up my things to move over to the new courthouse, I found a report submitted by then chief Judge Tobin saying that apergillus was found in the building. Aspergilus is a mold that causes aspergillosis and it’s the same disease that affected many of the 9/11 first responders. Are they planning to blow the old building up or tear it down slowly piece by piece? Either way, the surrounding area may be at risk of contracting the disease.