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Do Not Retain This Judge

The Pensacola News Journal carried this story by Lucy Morgan in the St. Petersburg Times: ‘Fiscal steward’ presides over ‘Taj Mahal’ project

TALLAHASSEE — Four times Paul M. Hawkes tried to become a judge, four times without success.

Success came on the fifth try, after then-Gov. Jeb Bush gained control of the nominating process. Bush picked Hawkes, a policy adviser in the Republican-controlled House, over five other nominees, including three judges.

On his application, Hawkes wrote, “A judge should be accountable to the public as a fiscal steward. A judge should not utilize practices that may be more convenient but would violate the stewardship responsibilities of the court.”

The “fiscal steward” then set out to build what is now derided as the “Taj MaHawkes,” a monument to profligate spending, with no taxpayer dollar spared, a courthouse outfitted with 20 miles of African mahogany, etched glass and, for each judge, a private kitchen and bathroom.

Chief Judge Paul M. Hawkes is on the ballot in the First District for a retention vote, and is the only judge I voted against retaining.

This is the Court of Appeals, not a trial court. These people need offices and a few conference rooms, not “august chambers”, because lawyers are the only “outsiders” who will see the inside of the building. Cases are appealed by paperwork being filed, and the Court of Appeals doesn’t even have the final word, they are just a filter between the trial courts and the state Supreme Court. Judge Hawkes suffers from a sense of entitlement and the voters should disabuse him of that fantasy.


1 jams o donnell { 10.25.10 at 3:52 pm }

So what services were cut to fund this abomination Bryan?

2 Bryan { 10.25.10 at 4:40 pm }

The state is stuck with a nearly $50 million dollar mortgage that will approach $100 million in actual cost by the time it is paid off. We will be stuck with a building that has minimal resale value, and cost a mint to upkeep.

We are cutting state jobs across the board and reducing funding for schools while wasting money like this. We could have bought an existing building with more space almost anywhere in the district for a fourth of what this thing cost, if there was actually a demonstrated need for more space.

Conservative government – penny-wise and pound foolish. Complain about the cost of school lunches, but build palaces for the elite.

3 Ame { 10.25.10 at 5:46 pm }

I’m not likely to vote to retain any of the first district’s appellant judges because of this ruling, [I’ll post a blog link with comment and link to ruling]

4 Bryan { 10.25.10 at 7:02 pm }

That was a very narrow ruling dealing only with the law they were presented with, which was a mistake on the part of the plaintiffs who should have included the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the US Constitution in their appeal. Judges in Florida are all “strict constructionists” and only the Florida Supreme Court can expand on the law by referencing a wider scope of issues.

That said, the judges should have made the effort. There is not much point in a “public meeting” if the public isn’t allowed to participate.

The first district pulled the same garbage with the law suits on imposing property taxes on the leaseholders on the barrier islands. It took a very narrow reading to come to their conclusion.