Public Gets First Look at 'Taj Mahal'

By: Mike Vasilinda Email
By: Mike Vasilinda Email

Tallahassee, FL - The appellate courthouse is massive..a hundred nine thousand square feet.

Inside a glass domed ceiling sits 70 feet about space for spectators. Each of the fifteen judges has a suite…but the judge’s suites are off limits to the public and photographers. Lauren Engel from Department of Management Services says their hands are tied. “Its security reasons we follow the federal protocols on that, so we just follow what they set up.”

But even though the chambers are off limits…CFO Alex Sink provided a glimpse of the judicial suites…with still photos collected during her audit.They show each chamber with a private bath and kitchen complete with granite counter tops.

What you won’t see on the walls of this elaborate building is expensive art work. The CFO denied payment for hundreds of framed pictures in expense she called excessive. “This is imported African mahogany” said at the time while holding a piece of courthouse trim. “There are 20 miles of this mahogany in this building” she says.

The agency responsible for construction has been criticized for letting judges lavishness run unchecked…but Lauren Engel says the agency was just doing what it was told. “DMS worked with the courts to put out a building that was completed on time and on the budget we were appropriated by the legislature.”

Lawmakers are expected to conduct their own investigation in the construction early next year.


The First DCA Courthouse Library (Room 2211) is 1,392 sq. feet, with the Library Office (Room 2212) coming in at 205 sq. feet.

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  • by renee on Dec 1, 2010 at 05:59 PM
    If you TRULY think judges are going to be in those kitchens cooking...ridiculous! It doesn't matter who appropriated the men. What DOES matter is the fact that the money was spent so outlandishly. Judges do NOT need private kitchens and they most certainly did NOT need granite countertops. Those items have NOTHING to do with how well they do their jobs, If so, they need to all be kicked out and we need to start over with judges who can do their jobs by knowing the law.
  • by Furious Location: Tallahassee on Dec 1, 2010 at 09:19 AM
    Can you really justify this? Even though the money was appropriated by legislature, it is still a waste of money. Clean up the current building and move on.
  • by nonstick Location: tally on Dec 1, 2010 at 08:26 AM
    hmmm...can't give state workers a raise, cutting back, charging more....just unbelievable. thought we were trying to get out of debt.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 1, 2010 at 08:05 AM
    The new building has kitchens for each judge. this way they never have to go home and can spend much more time working.
  • by Jackie on Nov 30, 2010 at 07:19 PM
    How exactly does a new building help the courts be more efficient? Granite countertops in a judge's private kitchen...doesn't seem like that would do much for the court system.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 30, 2010 at 06:54 PM
    This is not the judges fault. The money was appropriated by the legislature. We paid for the building. I hope that the new building will help make the courts much more efficient.
  • by elizabeth Location: pinetta on Nov 30, 2010 at 06:25 PM
    which judges are these so we can vote them out?
  • by broke on Nov 30, 2010 at 05:30 PM
    Yes, it was a waste of money. No we don't need to waste any more money on it by doing a costly investigation. Let's move on.
  • by sherree on Nov 30, 2010 at 04:21 PM
    If payment was denied for the "art work," sounds like a lawsuit is heading our way. Let's have tours of the judges' outrageous chambers so we can see just exactly WHY they should all be kicked out. We're paying for it, it belongs to us. Let us see!
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