BY BUDDY NEVINS
Karnack The Magnificent says, the answer is Richard Nixon, Ana Gardner and Howard Scheinberg.
And the question: Name one disbarred lawyer and two others who are likely to join them.
And the second answer: Name three people who prove the old adage that the cover-up is often worse than the crime.
The Judicial Qualification Commission charged Wednesday that Circuit Judge Gardiner not only discussed a death penalty case in a bar with prosecutor Howard Scheinberg while he tried the case in front of her.
She also attempted to cover up the crime.
The JQC has records which show an enormous number of calls and e-mails between the judge and prosecutor an average of more than 9.3 every day. Those records alone appear to prove the JQC’s cover-up case.
When will people learn? Everybody from Nixon to Bill Clinton to New York Gov. David Patterson have found out that the cover-up often is worse than the original crime.
Gardiner should have admitted charges that she talked about the case outside the courtroom when the JQC came with their questions. Instead, she stonewalled.
Talking about a case improperly is one thing and would have gotten her in trouble. But not being honest with the JQC is a much more serious offensive that in the end will sink her career.
Sheila Alu, the Sunrise commissioner who was a law student at the time, broke the case. She overheard Gardiner and Scheinberg talking about the case in a bar and fed the story to the New Times.
When the story became public, Gardiner and Sheinberg apparently tried to cover up the ethical violation by collaborating through phone calls and e-mail.
I am personally disappointed in Gardiner. She is a friend. I first met her as a pioneering Latin American political activist in then-white bread Broward who was later chair of the North Broward Hospital District.
In the end, there is no excuse for violating judicial ethics, especially in a death penalty case. And there is no excuse for the cover up.
She will either resign or be thrown off the bench. She will lose her Bar license and could lose her pension.
Its sad. She’s a bright woman who made a stupid mistake and destroyed her life. Then again, Nixon was one of our smartest presidents.
The JQC polices the judiciary, not lawyers. But the Bar should come knocking on his door to examine all those calls and e-mails.
Even before any future Bar hearing, Scheinberg is no Mr. Lucky.
After leaving the State Attorney’s Office in the midst of the scandal over this incident, he went to work for Scott Rothstein. You know what happened to that job.