No Big Meeting Room In Botched New Courthouse






Broward Chief Judge Peter Weinstein has a Yiddish word for the long-delayed new courthouse: Tsuris.

Tsuris means trouble. It is the perfect word for the problem-plagued roughly $200 million-plus project.

The latest: The unopened building does not have a large meeting room.

This news comes the same day the Sun-Sentinel had an astounding story that the new courthouse already had mold. Mold in the old courthouse is one of the reasons a new courthouse was built.

In addition to mold revealed by staff writer Brittany Wallman, the new building has no room large enough to hold the robing ceremonies for new judges early next year. Large enough to hold major trials with multiple criminal defendants.

Not one of the 75 new courtrooms or meeting rooms can accommodate even a moderate-sized group. Not one of the 714,000 square feet in the building.

“There is nothing big enough,” Weinstein said.

Weinstein already took steps to cut the crowd at the robings. Traditionally the new judges and their families, other judges and members of the legal community attend. Because there are about 15 judges to take the oath of office, the ceremonial robings are being spread out over days — Jan. 19, Jan. 27 and Feb. 10.

The robings are perhaps Weinstein’s last hurrah as Chief Judge. He will not run for a fourth two-year term in Febuary.

That is when his fellow 90 Broward judges elect their new leader. The next Chief Judge takes office in June, 2017.

Since his time on the bench is over at the end of 2018 due to the law that judges retire at 70, Weinstein said it would be wrong for him to run again.

“I would only be able to be chief judge 1 ½ years,” Weinstein said. “That would not be fair to the others.”

A Democratic State Senator for 14 years, Weinstein was appointed to the bench by Gov. Lawton Chiles in 1997.



Peter Weinstein (in black suit) speaking during a Senate committee meeting, 1987


Weinstein said he has a preferred candidate to replace him: Circuit Judge Jack Tuter.

“I’m very close with Jack. I find him to be a remarkable guy. I speak to him two or three times a day,” Weinstein said. “He was the director of (The Florida Division of) Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco and then had a long civil practice. He would do a good job.”

Tutor was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2005.

Tuter will face Circuit Judge Alfred Horowitz and possibly Circuit Judge Carlos Rodriguez.

Appointed by Bush in 2000 after five years on the county bench and a decade in private practice, Horowitz lost the last chief judge election. Weinstein narrowly beat him, according to nose counters in the judiciary.

Horowitz is in Family Court, the courthouse corner assigned to hearing emotionally turbulent divorce, child custody, paternity, child support and adoption cases.

Gov. Charlie Crist appointed Rodriguez, a Cuban-born former public defender who also had a private practice and now hears civil cases, in 2009.


Chief Judge: A Tough Job


Chief Judge is the face of the Broward courts, a system that has been plagued by justices being removed from office in recent years for alcohol abuse and misconduct.

“The job is not ceremonial,” Weinstein said. “Every problem ends up in the Chief Judge’s office.”

The power of persuasion is perhaps the most valued trait of a Chief Judge. Because judges are highly independent and are individually elected, a Chief Judge has limited control over them. The job has been equated to herding cats.

So the Chief Judge must gently coax judges into following his game plan.

The Chief does have two big cudgels – the power to decide what type of cases judges will hear and the work location they will be assigned. Theoretically, a judge who refuses to agree with the Chief could be punished by being assigned to hear tedious cases in an office they hate.

Weinstein seldom, if ever, used such power to punish opponents, judges say.

The one very public goal Weinstein set for himself may not be realized through no fault of his own: Opening a new courthouse.

The stalled courthouse still has no firm opening date.

Why the building fell behind schedule depends on who is doing the talking.

The county government, which owns the courthouse and is responsible for the construction, blames unplanned trouble during the construction and changes demanded by the judges to the courtrooms. Contractors blame design problems with the county plans.

“I’m not really worried” that the building won’t be finished, Weinstein said. “I’ll still be there as a member of the Courthouse Task Force.”

Do you believe the new courthouse be open by the end of 2018 when you leave office, Weinstein was asked.

Weinstein paused, possibly to consider the county’s botched job to date.

Then he said: “I’m not making any predictions.”




28 Responses to “No Big Meeting Room In Botched New Courthouse”

  1. rightwing says:

    it will be a miracle if the courthouse opens by mid 2017. and still the county commissioners want us to trust them with a sales tax increase.thank goodness for term limits

  2. Vote NO on sales tax says:

    The Courthouse is an example of how the county government handles money when building capital improvements. Why give them more $$$ they can waste. Vote NO on sales tax.

  3. The Liebermold Courthouse says:

    That mold is in the ventilation system and is now on all floors. They will need to strip the vetalation system and all of the insulation and drywall out of the entire building in order to make it safe again. I doubt it will open in 2018. Is Bertha going to take a fall over this thing? Or will the County Commission think is is cheaper to pay the verdict from the wrongful death claims that will follow if employees move in without fixing it.

  4. no big deal says:

    good thing its tax dollars and lucky its a blank check.


    Who was asleep at the wheel here when planning and design was going on or were people more interested in nepotism and cronyism on city commission to steer the project to one of their friends the standard quid pro quo that is rampant in this town

  6. Count GFYS Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz Jr says:

    This project was doomed from the beginning, the architects were politicians, project managers were lawyers, the labor force consisted of undocumented’s from every country except America because its beneath them to work. Here is an example of work change orders.

    1: 共發現 12 筆關於 [paragraph] 的資料 (解釋內文之英文單字均可再點入查詢)

    2: дорогой Крис, я не знаю Вас, но Вы имеете самую сладкую улыбку, которую я когда-либо видел. Я не лился через два дня, и я пахну. Я обнимаюсь в кровати, с моим лучшим другом.

    3: La mia amica Chiara ha 16(sedici) anni. E’ di altezza media ed è magra . Ha i capelli lisci e castani e gli occhi verdi. Vive a Roma.

    4: Where do I file for workers compensation.

  7. rightwing says:

    not to worry. marty kiar will smile it all away. and ritter can blame bush/cheney. this project was doomed early on when a backhoe cut a gas line, sending some big time gas fumes into the jail.lnly some quick work by the jail maintainance supervisor prevented a possible I recall the proposal to build a new courthouse was rejected by the voters.

  8. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    This is funny, when I worked as an engineer for a telco company, we spent hours reviewing designs with customers, showing all features and explaining to ensure what we build is what they wanted and needed. I don’t think these guys showed the judges what they were building. With 3-D modeling they could have had virtual walk thru’s and had 3 judge’s provide input prior to bidding out the project.

  9. Native Taxpayer says:

    #2. You are exactly right– VOTE NO on sales tax. Who from the county is responsible for overseeing this project– what did they know and when did they know it?

  10. Zowie says:

    Broward County is certainly the case study for how giving Democratic pols in power for too long can prove just as harmful as whatever Republicans do.

  11. city Activist Robert Walsh says:

    First of thi schief judge should have notified the county comm. months ago or the foreman about these issues. Then the chief judge should have notified the comm. or the county admin. should have pulle dthe plug on the money. No court on time no money honey. So all these millions of dollars. Now u are talkin about not opening until 2018. Come on. Oh I know tax payer funds who cares. I ‘ve seen parties (as mentioned)for bon voyage parties(8g) to former football stud retiring(14g), and no one(incMayor)questions who’s payin for all this. Inciedently some of u ,the last thing you need in your diet is cake and ice cream(expensive cake). What a mess(good reporting BW(SS)(although still very upset about your info on JL-on your tweeter feed((JL so good to me to find this out and for u to expose this illness was awful-I wish I could help I give a lung ,kidney, etc-to help, I adore him-I’m in great health(thank god-I could function on one kidney ,lung, etc all day long, shame on u BW)…(hang in there JL,love Robert)…..People are thinking of u….

  12. Leftwinger says:

    No problem, Brenda Forman will save the
    Day. Vote Nov 8th.

  13. Talks like a politician says:

    Deja vu all over again and again and again. Those Commissioners are a real hoot!

  14. A reader says:

    Let’s just think for a moment. Why would the Broward County commission build a courthouse/office building with no large room?

    Some possibilities:
    * If employees need training about issues that pertain to all of them, taxpayers can rent space at a downtown hotel.

    * If there is no meeting space, those pesky members of the public (taxpayers) cannot be
    accommodated thus preserving the lack of transparency in Broward County government.

    * Lack of space for a large group prevents those moral building sessions often conducted in successful businesses. “Staff” is a dime a dozen to many Commissioners.

    * If politicians and/or government officials come to visit, they can be entertained off-site, once again at taxpayers expense.

    * If a complicated trial with many players is on the schedule, the trial can be moved out of
    town. Road trip, anyone? Expenses paid by taxpayers!

    * Small, intimate room space translates into great places for insiders to consult with their cronies to cook up more deals.

    There is a reason for everything.

  15. Peter McIntosh says:

    8) Andrew Ladanowski says:

    You are right that the Architect should have sat down with the Stakeholders and Project Sponsors to determine the needs of the Project. It is unfair to state that this did not happen unless you have proof of your claim. Maybe, just maybe no end-user clearly identified all the needs of the design, some one had to approve the schematic and design development phase of the Project

  16. Emme says:

    David di Pietro and Nina Weatherly put people in black toxic mold, unhealthy, sickening conditions. They should live and work in this themselves. And face the worst of it. These are documented, undisputed facts.

  17. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    When one party builds/owns/manages a building for a second party there is usually a problem

  18. city activist robert walsh says:

    Excuses upon excuses for this court house delay. (shame)…

  19. city activist robert walsh says:

    Simple solution w/ thi s mold issue and the employees it effects. Atty.Satz, pay them ,let them stay home. Work form home. That s it. To go buy office space, whats the difference. Pay them, they work from home…..


    Much of the State Attorney staff needs to be at the courthouse because of court appearances, meeting with witnesses, etc. So your plan wouldn’t work.

  20. city activist robert walsh says:

    I get that the ASA have to be there. I the ASA’s effected by the mold. Then Brittany Wallman(good reporting ,although sometimes to good,then u wonder why they(RM)comes right back at u)reported that Atty.Satz is renting office space in 110Tower. Which is going to cost a fortune. What concerns me is Comm.Bogen and his deep involvement. He is practically coaching them for a class action lawsuit. I mean he is one vote and needs the majority of the comm. to direct anyone to do anything. You are suppose to save the taxpayer money not encourage law suits etc. If there is a suit I would want to know what is the general health of the employees complaints. Do they smoke, are they overweight, do they exercise,any pre-existing cond. that would exacerbate the illness.etc. I mean so now they (the comm) are aware and Satz has now got new office space. Buddy ,find out what he is paying in 110 tower bldg.(whatever the is). To note Atty.Satz looks like he could run a marathon(love the Jag-I like the cars to that go boom,boom,boom). He must spend 12,13 hours a day in that bldg. I would have made arrangements to put up trailers(Honey boo-boo he we come)…..

  21. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    We have a County Manager. She is responsible for the Building period NOT Broward Beat its bliggers or readers. Write HER!

  22. city activist robert walsh says:

    #20 yeah its me. again Brittany wallman u violate people’s HIPPA rights. You and that damn tweeter feed Sexton ,Christine whatever her name how dare u (again) publish ROn Book’ medical cond. sorry Mr.BOOk -,she has done this before, and apparently didn’t learn her lesson(RM turn up the volume(I,m not sayin pull out the 38, but again she does this). What is wrong w/ u. I mean this is personal. This ha s nothing to do w/ county reporting. I have the resources to put issues on the front page of that Paper(u know it). Don’t give me I didn’t discover Book’ cond. one of my tweeter follows did. U let it go through. U condone it. Not right. This time step aside Ast.Police Chief I’ll handle this. Paper should be sued for letting her do this(twice.). U can’t violate citizens Hippa rights. U just wait. U tak e that down immediately. Run, run to your husband,. Enough of your exposing people’ illness. Poor guy now has complete strangers knowing what he is going through.To his daughter com e on board(u owe him)…Buddy think about it . U know a lot. Numerous sources etc. would u ever publish someone’ specific illness. Say battling personal health issues fine. To let someone publish that w/out censuring is wrong. U know Buddy,(and u probably had thi s info weeks ago.U didn’t see Buddy run w/ it Brittany…..Totally disgusted,again, mind u again Brittany u pull this ….(no more)..Wait, wait, wait,comes around, goes around. (take it down)….


    HIPPA doesn’t cover the media or average people. The law states that health care providers and insurance companies can not reveal a patient’s medical information.

    Sun-Sentinel staff writer Brittany Wallman didn’t write about Ron Book’s cancer. She retweeted a Twitter feed from PoliticFl writer Christine Sexton, which also retweeted.

    The original source of Sexton’s news could be a lengthy story in the Tampa Bay Times, which mentioned his cancer and his daughter’s pregnancy:

    “Ron Book sat in the Florida Senate’s public gallery with tears in his eyes as his daughter was named to the honorary role to lead the Democratic caucus.

    ‘That was an ‘Oh my God’ moment,’ he said after freshman Sen.Lauren Book of Plantation was named Senate Democratic leader pro tempore…..

    Book, who is known as one of the Capitol’s most veteran and successful lobbyists, acknowledged that he has been slowed somewhat in recent months after having suffered a bone infection after foot surgery. In July, he was diagnosed with an aggressive tumor on his prostate and is undergoing radiation treatment.

    “I’ve had a very rough couple of months,” he said. “I’m going to be alright over time, but I’m still sort of experiencing those side effects every day.”

    A tireless worker, he said it has been difficult to scale back his work hours. He said his 18-hour days have become more like eight and 10…”

    Tears welled in his eyes again as he pulled up photos from his Iphone of the twins in utero that Lauren and her husband are expecting in February. He proudly proclaimed the girl would be named Kennedy Grace and the boy named Hudson Lee. The family will move to Tallahassee for the session and Grandfather Book expects to have an active role.

  23. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Miss Brittany Wallman is one of the best PROFESSIONAL journalists in the English speaking world


    I like Brittany. We worked together on many stories and just revisited at a cocktail party. I believe she is one of the best journalists on the Sun-Sentinel and perhaps, in South Florida.

    But “in the English speaking world”? That’s a big place, including lots of writers.

  24. City Activist Robert walsh says:

    Its still tasteless. “hippa doesn’t cover the media average people” makes no sense. So u are sayin if an insurance co. relieved this info it would be a violation, but someone in the media does it,perfectly acceptable. I would state double standard. Any way u look at it is disturbing and distasteful. Oh, trust me I could come back w/ comments etc. but I as am above that. Lastly your disclosure would have been more tasteful. Lets make it personal shall we what if she came down w/ cancer(God forbid) and I published that finding, would she feel betrayed, horrified, her personal space violated etc. This was also done to someone else ,which she took down on her twitter feed, and she knows it.Thank u Buddy for your input….Lastly to her,and anyone else we are not in business in destroying other people’s lives”….

  25. Brittany Wallman says:

    From what I see, Ron Book spoke publicly to POLITICO about his illness, and they then reported it.

  26. Shame on you Ms, Walman says:

    That you even responded to Robert Walsh is so beneath you. You are a top notch reporter. Anyone who read the retweets knew what was what. No need to stoop to his level.

    Happy Thanksgivving to you and yours.

    Keep up the good work.

    A fan

  27. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Once again a PROFESSIONAL JOURNALIST gives us the ACCURATE story

  28. rightwing says:

    ah yes the courthouse. at the last commissioners meeting, our newly minted mayor whined about how “they get blamed for everything”. grow some thick skin missy if you want to run the time it opens it will be an old courthouse.and every inmate in the bcj facing heavy charges will be looking for weaknesses in a brand new building.sacre bleau