Posted On: February 21, 2012 by Leifert & Leifert

Fort Lauderdale Crimes Handled in Aging Courthouse

Almost everyone accused of a crime in Fort Lauderdale or Broward County must make some sort of appearance at the courthouse building on the downtown riverfront.

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This wouldn't be different from any other city or county in South Florida, except the Broward County courthouse is aging, decrepit and overrun with pests, according to recent reports by the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys have been closely following the developments regarding one delay after another to have a new courthouse erected. A building that is antiquated and decaying does not properly reflect the serious nature of the decisions that must be made within. The tens of thousands of residents, attorneys and county employees who use the building annually deserve an improved environment. The county's clerk of courts was quoted as saying that employees have seen rats scurrying across the floors and behind coffee machines. The rodents create a health hazard, and have been known to nibble on indoor plants.

County officials had appeared to recognize that something had to be done, as they had already put a new courthouse building project up for bid. They had approved a sales tax two years ago to help pay for the project. That was four years after voters had declined to foot the bill for a pricier venue.

But now, as the local media is reporting, there has been yet another delay. This time, it is due to an architectural error that caused the project to be under-bid by about $8 million. County officials would like to start over once again.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, there is a hotly contested bidding war between two large construction contractors over who will get the job - a nearly $180 million project. The high-rise structure was slated to be built on the south end of the New River, between Third Avenue and Andrews Avenue.

Officials have said an error on the part of the architectural design firm caused the county to under-bid the project by millions of dollars. That mistake involved underestimating how much it would cost for air conditioners in the building - obviously an important feature in our South Florida sun. But now, officials want to scrap that bid entirely and start over.

Mayor John Rodstrom said the most recent delays were unavoidable. But the clock is ticking because with every month that goes by, material prices increase, as does the cost for labor.

The construction company owner who originally landed the bid says sending it back out for re-bid will only end up costing the taxpayers more money in the long run. He went on to say that he doesn't think the project is that far under-bid, and that in fact, the air conditioning system will only cost about $2 to $3 million more than anticipated.

He said the difference can be worked out by negotiating the contract directly with the construction firm, rather than putting the project back out to bid, and making taxpayers wait even longer.

If you are arrested in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in South Florida, contact Leifert & Leifert at 954-523-9600 or 561-988-8000 for a free consultation.

Additional Resources:
New Broward courthouse still not off the ground, By Brittany Wallman, Sun Sentinel

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