Why do Judges Keep Getting Arrested in Broward County, Florida?

Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Judge Lynn Rosenthal being arrested for DUI

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

-Noel Brinkerhoff


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)


anonymous 9 years ago
I agree with Thomas Scotto! Judge Watson has no place on the bench, or right to be there let alone make rulings in Family Law. She is ruining my childrens lives and I firmly believe she has been "paid off". Everyone already knows there is not an ethical bone in that lady's body!
Cat 9 years ago
Until the corrupt judges are out of Broward County, there will be no justice - with unethical dealings such as prejudice (paid off?????) and clear, plainly clear evidence overruled. As Shannon stated, a judge should know when he is doing something wrong, but sometimes they do not. These judges currently under investigation should definitely be also investigated as far as pay-off cases, etc.
Thomas scotto 9 years ago
Can someone please tell me why judge Watson is still on the bench? With no more appeals! Please
Deborah Ferris 9 years ago
Judge Nicolas Lopane is the 8th presiding judge in my case. In the case, Judge Lopane has repeatedly deprived me of my right to be heard and to equal enforcement of the law. He has gone so far as to cover-up 11th Circuit Clerk Harvey Ruvin's paper and electronic court record tampering in the case. Harvey Ruvin destroyed the paper copy of my court record to cover up 10 years of the court's transgressions in the case. Then when I wanted to rebuild the record his office was instructed not to work with me. He then transmitted a 40,000 page court record to the 3rd DCA when I appealed 13 of Judge Lopane's "irregular" orders. 12,000 of the 40,000 pages were blank (all of the blank pages related to Judge Lopane's 13 "irregular" orders). A "never identified" 3rd DCA Judge accepted the corrupted record which was not certified by the clerk, as required under the appellate rules. Then, three 3rd DCA judges dismissed my appeal with prejudice. The 3rd DCA lacked jurisdiction to rule on the matter because there was no court record. Judge Nicolas Lopane is the most corrupt judge in my case to date. He was appointed to the case by former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricky Polston. Presiding Judges no. 5 to 7 in my case were appointed by former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady. Do I have a shot at justice in Florida? Of course not, especially since Polston and Canady have been appointing corrupt judges to my case. In the end, I believe the court is protecting the legal, political and financial interests of the law firm of Richman Greer P.A. (opposing counsel in the case) whose attorneys filed nine fraudulent financial affidavits in the case for their client - a 26 year general partner of Ernst & Young U.S. LLP. To politically strong and/or big to jail is the way for Richman Greer, P.A. and E&Y
shannon 9 years ago
Judge lopane should be investigated my daughter had him for a trial hearing and he let an officer testify that wasnt even there. I advised him of that he said nothing

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