Legal Ethics

Fla. Appellate Judge at Center of $48.8M 'Taj Mahal' Court Construction Controversy Resigns

Facing a legal ethics case over his role in a controversial $48.8 million “Taj Mahal” court construction project and other claimed misconduct, a Florida appellate judge has tendered his resignation.

Judge Paul Hawkes will exit the 1st District Court of Appeal on Jan. 4, 2012, the Associated Press reports.

Once the court’s chief judge, he is scheduled for a hearing before a panel of the Judicial Qualification Commission later in January.

However, his Nov. 9 resignation letter to Gov. Rick Scott makes no mention of the court controversy or the ethics case, pointing instead to the court’s efficiency and successful adoption of an electronic filing system on his watch as chief judge and praising fellow jurists and employees as “truly an incredible group of individuals” with whom he was honored to work.

The massive new Tallahassee appellate court building features luxury finishes and individual kitchens and soundproof private bathrooms for each of the 15 judges.

Hawkes is accused of verbally attacking those working on the court construction project and exceeding legislative authority in pursuing it.

Generally, ethics cases are dropped against judges who resign from office, the article notes, because removal is the most severe sanction that can be imposed.

Earlier coverage: “Facing Ethics Case re $50M ‘Taj Mahal’ Court Building Project, Judge Points Finger at 14 Colleagues”

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