Election Leftovers: Pending Ethics Complaint Agt. Broward Judge Nina Di Pietro

 

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

 

Broward County Judge Nina Di Pietro’s contentious 2016 campaign continues to give her problems.

Although she won her close race in November, the debris from the acrimonious campaign just triggered an ethics complaint against her, Browardbeat.com learned.

 

Nina Di Pietro 

 

The complaint claims that Judge Di Pietro lied about the reasons for recusing herself from a case involving a political figure who dogged her 2016 campaign – consultant and civic activist Dan Lewis.

It involves the election.  Here is the background as outlined in the complaint:

  • American Builders and Contractors Supply Company versus Daniel and Cheryl Lewis, a civil foreclosure case, landed in Di Pietro’s court on March 6.
  • Samuel Lopez, a lawyer for Lewis, immediately asked Judge Di Pietro to recuse herself from the case because of Lewis’ “public support of Judge Di Pietro’s opponents in the acrimonious 2016 primary and runoff judicial races.”
  • Lewis wasn’t just an ordinary campaign opponent, the complaint alleges.

Starting at the time that Judge Di Pietro was appointed to the bench by Gov. Rick Scott in 2015, Lewis repeatedy attacked her. In a blog and speeches, Lewis labeled her appointment as political payoff for her husband David Di Pietro, a GOP stalwart who supported Scott’s campaigns. Lewis contended Ms. Di Pietro was not qualified to be a judge.

Lewis said and wrote during the campaign that Judge Di Pietro’s appointment solely for political reasons negated any work she may be doing on the bench, according to the ethics complaint.

“In a speech before the Sunrise Democratic Club in August 2016, when asked to comment about Judge D Pietro’s conduct after being appointed, Mr. Lewis said that, ‘it didn’t matter – you don’t forgive a car thief because they might be a good driver. The ‘ends’ can’t justify the ‘means’ in our society,’” states the complaint.

  • When Di Pietro did not immediately recuse herself from the case, Lopez went to her office on March 7 and spoke to her judicial assistant. Lopez asked the assistant if the judge was going to recuse herself.
  • Two days later, Lopez received a notice that Di Pietro was recusing herself. However, she recused herself using the excuse that Lopez’s conversation with the judge’s assistant was forbidden ex-parte communication concerning the case, .i.e, an exchange that excluded an attorney from the other side of the case.

The ethics complaint alleges that Di Pietro violated the cannons of judicial conduct by using an “improper” and “intentionally misleading” reason for recusing herself.

The reason should have been Lewis’ public opposition to Di Pietro’s election. Instead she improperly used the ex-parte rule, according to the complaint.

It is highly legalize and, of course, unknown at this point whether the complaint will be accepted. But Judge Di Pietro should be warned:

Lewis has a long history of using the courts to correct what he believes is wrong. He has the resources to exercise what are his legal rights.

At the very least, this one could tie the judge up in paperwork for quite some time. After all, American Builders and Contractors Supply Company versus Daniel and Cheryl Lewis has been dragging on for 11 years.

 

 



8 Responses to “Election Leftovers: Pending Ethics Complaint Agt. Broward Judge Nina Di Pietro”

  1. Dan Lewis says:

    I am bound by confidentiality once I file a JQC complaint, and have not yet “filed” it. While there is no definition of “file” – I will not comment after the complaint is mailed, a reasonable if not a broad interpretation of “file”.

    Let me be clear, in spite of some notable exceptions – I have great respect for our judiciary including those jurists that have been elected over both my and sometimes my client’s opposition. Once elected, a successful judicial candidate is a judge and must assume all the responsibilities that neutrality demands.

    I expect, and speaking on behalf of the public for a moment, we expect that a Judge comes to court well prepared, having read the subject pleadings and motions, is attentive, polite, fair, impartial and follows the law, procedures and extant case law. We further expect that they use any discretion they may have in the interests of justice.
    When a judge cannot fulfill these expectations, they must recuse themselves from the matter. This recusal means that they not only remove themselves from the formal proceedings, they also remove themselves from any and all “court-yard” gossip regarding or involvement with the matter. While it is well established that a Judge may discuss a case with other judges – that does not include recused judges.

    I take exception when a Judge appears to use their high office for retribution, “pay-back”, or conduct generally unbecoming the office they hold. In that instance, you can count on me to act accordingly as long as I am able.

  2. Seymour Fax says:

    Lewis is a force to be feared in the courthouse.He has put many of the judges there through his work.

  3. SCOwl says:

    (1)No reason needs to be given by a judge signing a recusal order.

    (2)Ex Parte communications are abhorrent to the administration of justice, and anyone, particularly a lawyer currently applying for judicial appointment ought to know better.

    (3)Motions to Disqualify are not commented upon in open court. A judge reviews such Motions for legal sufficiency and has thirty days to do so. If not ruled upon within thirty days, such a Motion is deemed granted. Here, based on the article above, the Motion was ruled on within three days. In divisions with more than 1,000 cases, this is remarkably fast.

    (4)Frivolous complaints cause the filer to lose credibility (if they had any to begin with). Just ask the PDs Office who staked their reputation on the Motion filed against a different judge, but then didn’t appeal the denial. They either lied, or they are per se ineffective or both.

  4. feared, lol says:

    Seems interesting that Lewis does not mention his involvement in running Brenda Di Ioia against Judge Di Pietro. I guess no one likes to have the spotlight on their losses.

  5. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    @4

    Technically speaking, what the fuck does that have to do with a price of a hooker in China?

    Nice try at a strawman.

  6. WTF says:

    WTF does it matter why the Judge recused herself if she recused. The point of a recusal is that the party i.e. Dan, didn’t feel he would be treated fairly. Understandable. He received the result he sought, makes no difference how he got there.

  7. uncle bim says:

    looks like billy rubin has found himself a new stooge to fight his proxy battle with DP. nabil sleeps with the fishes. lynn has outlived her usefulness. rocky is done too. jesse is working for trump. guess it’s dan’s turn to play the clown. Hey, Buddy, are you going to try reporting on the theft of Broward Health from the public or are you going just continue to chronicle the court jesters?

  8. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Small potatoes!! Check out this NDN story about a State Senator who pulled a million dollars out of taxpayers’ pockets and quietly steered it into his close friend’s bu$ine$$…

    http://www.naplesnews.com/story/news/politics/2017/03/18/senator-helped-friend-secret-1-million-state-payment-aaron-bean/98679188/

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