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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Paul Hawkes' fuzzy memory



Lucy Morgan: Two 1st District Court of Appeal judges summoned before a Senate Committee looking into a palatial new building the court constructed here apologized if their new digs went beyond legislative intent but mostly defended a building critics call a Taj Mahal.

The panel's chairman criticized them for not being "honest and straightforward.''

Judges Paul M. Hawkes and Brad Thomas also defended a free trip they accepted from construction manager Peter Brown to take a second look at the Michigan Supreme Courthouse, a building they wanted to copy.

Hawkes repeatedly said he could not recall when questioned about some of his comments to lawmakers and in e-mails discussing the project. Hawkes' recollection failed when asked about comments he made to a House committee chairman who refused to put money in the budget for the courthouse in 2007. He had the same answer when asked about an e-mail in which he said the court would need to "kiss the rings'' to gain legislative approval of more money for the building.

"You don't recall?'' asked committee chairman Mike Fasano in a voice loaded with sarcasm. "Would you rely on this kind of testimony in a courtroom, judge?"

"I'm saddened that two judges of the 1st District Court were not honest and straightforward,'' Fasano said later. "They are truly experts at playing dodgeball.''


[Last modified: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 7:45pm]


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