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Federal Courthouses Are Too Damn Big, Says GAO

Via The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times, comes a Washington Post story about a recent Government Accountability Office report (.pdf) concluding that there's a bunch of wasted space in federal courthouses built in the last decade.

Specifically, the GAO says that 28 percent of the square footage in these newly constructed buildings, including the Rush Limbaugh, Sr. Federal Courthouse in Cape Girardeau, Mo. (pictured above), is "extra." We're talking 3.6 million square feet. That's like 9,000 New York "luxury one-bedroom apartments."

The General Services Administration, which supervises the construction and maintenance of federal facilities, thinks the GAO's math is a little fuzzy.

But GSA Public Buildings Service Commissioner Robert A. Peck said auditors incorrectly included negative space in the atriums of tall buildings and "phantom floors" in double height courtrooms. The incorrect measurements meant auditors mistakenly assigned normal operating and construction costs to the empty space, he said.

One suggestion in the GAO report is to compel judges to share courtrooms. According to the agency, three district judges should be able to successfully share two courtrooms, one courtroom if they are on senior status.

Not addressed in the report: whether any of the GAO's suggested reforms would require Southern District of New York Judge Barbara Jones to relocate her legendary Christmas parties.

Posted by Eric Lipman on May 26, 2010 at 02:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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