Top floors of Broward County Courthouse closed over possible structural concerns

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Top floors of the Broward County Courthouse were closed off Friday afternoon as a precaution at the request of Broward County officials possibly over structural concerns.

On Thursday evening, Broward County Administration was notified by facilities management that there were potential structural issues in the West Tower, according to Greg Meyer, assistant director in the Office of Public Communications for Broward County.

In an email, Meyer stated: “Our consultants who designed the Courthouse building recommended the closure of the Courthouse West Tower’s top four floors, the 18th through the 21st floor (where the issues are confined to) and in an abundance of caution, Broward County restricted access to these floors.”

Staff and other attorneys received an email from Thursday night from the chief judge telling workers that they had to work remotely.

The chief judge's email to workers at the Broward County Courthouse on Thursday evening. (JAABLOG)

Signs by the elevators read that the upper floors are not to be accessed.

Meyer said on Friday that there were five people on site evaluating the situation with support from engineers and that an inspection of the structure will continue throughout the weekend.

“Inspection of the building’s structure will continue through the weekend and it is unknown at this time how long these floors will be closed.” Meyer wrote.

The new courthouse tower, the Broward County Judicial Complex West Building, officially opened May 11, 2017.

The 714,000-square-foot Civil/Family Courthouse, located at the northeast corner of SE 6 Street and SE 1 Avenue, has approximately 77 courtroom spaces and a 500-car parking garage.

The new courthouse was finished in 2017 and boasts more than 70 new courtroom spaces. Most notably, the sentencing of the parkland school shooter was on the 17th floor.

Bill Gellin, an attorney that works frequently in the courthouse, told Local 10 News: “It’s a brand new building. Why aren’t they telling us what’s going on if it’s a real issue, and if it’s nothing, they should tell us so people could relax.”

Gellin told Local 10 News reporter Trent Kelly on Saturday that no information has been given on why the floors had to be shut down.

“The chief judge admits that he just found out about it as well--that there was some type of issue and they had to shut down the top three floors, but there’s no information forthcoming about what the problems are,” Gellin said.

Meyer said that they are awaiting the findings of an on-site evaluation, however, parts of the courthouse building that are not affected will remain operational.

Local 10 News reporter Trent Kelly contributed to this story.

About the Authors:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local