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The new courthouse controversy

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Updated: 4/27/2012 12:15 am
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There is yet another controversy surrounding the new courthouse.

Leaders of the police union are planning a way to honor officers, killed in the line of duty. They wanted to put a memorial outside the new Duval County courthouse. But the naming of the plaza is creating yet another controversy.

Councilman John Cresimbeni talked about it at Tuesday's city council meeting. "The proposal is to name it Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Square Plaza. I had reservations."

The chief judge Tuesday spoke out against it. "I think it's inappropriate for the courthouse to have law enforcement plaza, but public safety would be appropriate," said Chief Judge Donal Moran.

The chief judge says his main problem, deals with court cases and the intimidation jurors might feel. "We've had a number of cases where cases were reversed because too many officers are in the building," said Judge Moran.

It fired up leaders of the police union. "We didn't think it'd be a big deal," said FOP's Assistant General Counsel Phillip Vogelsing. "They're instructed by the judge as to what's allowed to take into consideration in a verdict," said Vogelsing.

It's just one more issue surrounding, an already controversial project just weeks before the 350 million dollar courthouse is supposed to open. "We just wanted something to have as a tribute to the 60 fallen officers," said Vogelsing.

Council members tell Action News the issue will now go back to the rules committee on Monday to be debated. FOP was hoping to have a final decision on the name by May 2. That's Police Memorial Day.
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