Why do Judges Keep Getting Arrested in Broward County, Florida?
From alcoholism to ethical and criminal violations, judges in one Florida county keep getting into trouble and proving an embarrassment.
Take Judge Lynn Rosenthal. She made a spectacle of herself last month after driving drunk in a courthouse parking lot, hitting a police car and repeatedly driving into a gate. Rosenthal was the third Broward County judge in six months to be arrested for driving under the influence.
Another was Judge Gisele Pollack, who was already in trouble for showing up for work drunk, twice, and was later arrested for being under the influence. Still another Broward judge, Judge Nick Lopane, is being investigated for allegedly allowing a convicted Ponzi schemer to influence a case.
“I do think it belies an underlying systemic problem in Broward County,” Howard Finkelstein, Broward’s elected public defender, told the newspaper. “I don’t think this stunningly embarrassing fact of having all these charges pending at the same time is indicative of a judiciary with substance abuse problems, but I do think it is a manifestation of the greater problem of a circle-the-wagons mentality.”
The troubling episodes also involve former county judges, one of whom, Judge Ana Gardner, was disbarred for exchanging 949 phone calls and 471 text messages with the prosecutor during a death penalty case.
Another judge, Judge Laura Watson, may lose her seat after getting caught cheating clients and a fellow lawyer a decade ago. In April of this year, the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission recommended that Watson be removed from the bench.
“Even for South Florida, where absurd news events are routine and the sheriff went to prison for corruption, the spate of judicial scandals has raised serious questions about whether the arrests in Broward are a bizarre coincidence or underscore a larger systemic problem,” the newspaper’s Frances Robles reported.
“Tell me one other courthouse that at any time ever had three judges pending criminal charges, a fourth judge disbarred by the Supreme Court and another judge awaiting removal,” Finkelstein said. “And that doesn’t include the naked judge!”
That would be Judge Joyce Julian, who, in 2001, was found drunk and naked from the waist down in the hallway of the Amelia Island Plantation resort…at a meeting of the Florida Conference of Circuit Judges
To Learn More:
Here Comes the Judge, in Cuffs (by Frances Robles, New York Times)
Judge Avoided Jail but Loses Job after Stealing $1 Million from Elderly Neighbor (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)
Judge Sentenced to 28 Years in Prison for “Selling” Kids to Private Prisons (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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