Exposed: The Overcrowded Courthouse Myth

Okay, everybody's heard rumors about Broward Circuit Judge Ana Gardiner's alleged courthouse romantic flings, but she's proving over and over again that she is, first and foremost, a political ho (though an honorable one, of course).

That fact was confirmed yet again when she told the Sun-Sentinel: "We have run out of courtrooms. There is not one spare courtroom. We don't even have closets."

Wrote reporter Scott Wyman: "Gardiner said the state has offered three retired judges to help cut through the backlog of cases, but she has trouble finding courtrooms for them to use."

Then in the Miami Herald: "'We do not have one spare courtroom. We don't even have closets.''

When I read those quotes, I thought, "What the flying fuck is this crazy [chief administrative judge over the criminal division] talking about?"

I have spent a bit of time in the courthouse and know that when you get into the guts of it, what strikes you the most is the emptiness of it. There are corridors where you can hear the echo of ghost and and see tumbleweed blow by.

But I didn't write about that because, well, it was just my impression. Maybe I've been hallucinating. You never know. But then the good Bill Gelin of JAABlog did the footwork for us all. As an experiment, he walked the entire courthouse yesterday afternoon and found that 28 of the 51 courtrooms were empty as of 3:17 p.m.

So what gives? Is politics at play, or is the system so broken that even the Chief Administrative Judge for Criminal can't have empty courtrooms put at her disposal to move cases? Can't our judges pull together and work together, or is there an ongoing judicial turf war at play behind the scenes?

I just hope the taxpayers don't get soaked due to Iraq style flawed intelligence, when the money can be used for badly needed rehabilitation, diversion, and mental health services that would preclude the need for more jails, police, and judges.

Oh yeah, Bill. The fix is in, starting with Bill Scherer, who has invested heavily in land for the new courthouse, and his friends. The downtown crowd is depending on this thing and for years the judges, led by Dale Ross, have cheerleaded for it. And Gardiner? She's just doing her bit to show she's part of the team.

Read Gelin's post here -- and make sure to check out the comments.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman