Southern District officials confirmed that funds have finally been appropriated for a long-awaited security pavilion for the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse at 500 Pearl St.
Chief Judge Loretta Preska (See Profile) and District Executive Edward Friedland said the General Services Administration has secured $10 million for construction of the pavilion they say is needed to improve courthouse security.
The pavilion will be built on the elevated walkway that runs along the western side of the courthouse section facing Worth Street.
“You want to screen for explosives on the outside, not inside,” Preska said. “It will also result in quicker ingress. Hopefully, we will have the lawyers go in one area, jurors in another and employees in another.”
Preska said the pavilion will be a match architecturally for the courthouse. The GSA plans to approve a contract this spring.
The U.S. Marshal’s Office and court officials have repeatedly sought funding for the pavilion, both to improve security screening at a courthouse that continues to hold high-profile terrorism trials, and to ease congestion inside the Worth Street doors that often causes long lines outside for lawyers and litigants.
Southern District officials were confident the funding would be approved in 2009 when the Obama administration first announced it would try Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who allegedly plotted the 9/11 terror attacks, at the Southern District courthouse. But plans for the pavilion, as well as other security upgrades in lower Manhattan, were thrown into doubt when the administration in 2011 was forced to reverse course and announce that Mohammed would be tried at Guantanamo Bay.
Nevertheless, the administration proceeded with some terror trials in civilian courts. Ahmed Ghailani was convicted before Judge Lewis Kaplan (See Profile) in 2010 for his role in the 1998 al-Qaida U.S. embassy bombing plot. Two more men accused in the plot, Adel Abdel Bary and Khalid al-Fawwaz, are awaiting trial before Kaplan and Abu Hamza al-Masri is before Judge Katherine Forrest (See Profile) on charges of trying to aid al-Qaida, open a terror training camp in the United States and aiding a kidnapping in Yemen that ended with the deaths of four hostages.