Chief Judge Donald Moran sent a letter to Mayor Alvin Brown on Friday, requesting an explanation for a hold that was put on money to meet expectations that were set before ground was broken.
Moran says Brown did not consult the court before cutting funding for technology needed to provide real-time audio and video from inside Duval County courtrooms. Moran claims the lack of wiring keeps the public from being fully and fairly informed of court proceedings.
The mayor's spokesman David DeCamp disagrees. He tells Action News the access to courtroom proceedings is equal to what was provided in the former courthouse, and that the new technology was going to be an added benefit in the event that a trial is of great public interest.
DeCamp says Turner Construction has completed part of the wiring needed to broadcast directly from the courtroom, but it will cost another $200,000 to finish the work. It was one of a long list of items that Brown put on hold in January, when the budget was in question by city council.
"As you're getting the final place and you're holding the line on the budget, certain things are reduced that don't affect the function of the judicial system, the media, and the public and this is one of them."
In his letter, Chief Judge Moran pushes the mayor for a timeline, but DeCamp says that cannot be set until funding is found.
"At this point we're waiting for the appropriate time, when the appropriate funding is available, and we have that source, to consider how to do it...We believe it's probably a local funding responsibility, but we're looking at any available way that someone suggests to meet the needs."
The mayor's office tells Action News it will provide the cost of how much has been spent on the project later in the week.
In the meantime, a temporary certificate of occupancy for the new courthouse was extended through January 2013. The mayor's office expects Turner Construction to complete its final punchlist in the next few weeks.