Circuit Judge Charles Kaplan Dead At 45


UPDATE:  Funeral services for Charles Kaplan will be held Sunday, 9:45 a.m.,  The Eden Memorial Chapel,
327 Main Street, Fort Lee, New Jersey 07024.  Kaplan’s friends are also planning a memorial service to be held in Broward, possibly next week.

Judge Charles Kaplan was found dead in his apartment this morning by his courthouse aide after failing to show up in his courtroom. 

“I’m shocked.  This was a 45-year-old man. I can’t believe it, said Raag Singhal, Kaplan’s law partner before he was elected judge two years ago.

Kaplan was at the center of a controversy concerning prosecutor Sheila Alu and Circuit Judge Ana Gardiner. The controversey was the subject of daily newspaper articles this week.

Alu has alleged that Gardiner and prosecutor Howard Scheinberg were improperly discussing a murder case over dinner and cocktails at a local restaurant. Scheinberg was the prosecutor of the case that was being held in Gardiner’s court.

Kaplan was sitting at the table when the alleged discussion took place.

He was scheduled to be a key witness in the investigation of Alu’s allegations by the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

Gardiner and Scheinberg deny the incident took place as Alu describes it.  They say Alu has told different stories at different times about the alleged discussion. 

The Miami Herald and South Florida Sun-Sentinel wrote articles about the Alu-Gardiner controversy this week.

Kaplan was said to be “extremely distraught over the courthouse gossip surrounding the controversy, according to a courthouse source who knew him well.

But his former law partner Singhal said:

 “This was a tough lawyer.  We were in the papers all the time over cases.  If a newspaper articles were going to kill him, it would have happened a long time ago.


Two sources said Kaplan apparently had a heart attack. He was found in his bed and one source said they were told “he died in his sleep.

The official cause of death will be declared after an autopsy, Singhal said.

Kaplan was elected in 2006.  He was no political novice, having been campaign treasurer for Judge Joyce Julian’s campaign in 2002.

Charles “Charlie Kaplan was divorced and had three children. 

Unlike most lawyers who have notable legal figures or politicians robe them, Kaplan was robed by his children.

A juvenile court judge, Kaplan felt “that it was in juvenile court he could still make a difference in lives, recalled Singhal.

He spent a dozen years as a criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale.  Before that he worked as a Broward prosecutor in the sex crimes, felony trial and juvenile divisions.

Kaplan had an undergraduate degree  from Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, N.Y. and a law degree from Nova University School of Law.

11 Responses to “Circuit Judge Charles Kaplan Dead At 45”

  1. Mister Courthouse says:

    Charlie was a good guy. R.I.P. Judge Kaplan.

  2. old friend and lawyer says:

    Charlie had a great outlook on life
    and had a heart of gold.
    The thing about Charlie was that as your friend, he was there no matter what.
    I will remember his laugh and sense of humor.
    I’ll you on the other side.

  3. thomas bass says:

    Charlie Kaplan was a wonderful judge who always had a smile for everyone in court. When he was a private attorney earlier he was the same warm, wonderful guy. I will miss his smiles, his greetings, his warmth. He was a good man who left us too soon.

  4. His true friend says:

    Sheila Alu should have a wonderful sleep tonight she knows when she looks in the mirror, and when she lies awake at night that her lies have caused the stress and pain suffered by Charlie and others. She should be haunted with those lies, while she holds old grey Ronnie in her arms, and thinks of her child, and then Charlie’s kids. In her own sick demented world she lives a lie, she knows it, and will only feel pain when she cant hide from her own thoughts about the truth Sleep well Shiela enjoy the nightmare

  5. slant by Buddy says:

    BudYou more than anyone knows that it happened exactly the way Alu says it happened because the very next day she told your very best friend Ali, and it’s the same story she Ali told me 18 months ago. How about you balance the story Buddy and report that their were two independent witnesses to this discussion? Nah, that would be too balanced, right Buddy? Gardiner and Scheinberg’s lawyers may be able to lie to the press, but they sure aren’t lying to the people who hold their fate.

  6. His true friend says:

    Sheila while you were up because sleep has a hard time breaking through his voice in your head, did you look at your hands? While you were examining yourself in the mirror did you find yourself looking at your hands, maybe wondering if his blood can be seen by your naked eye? You know it’s there. You know that it was you trying to get Charlie to go to lunch to get his story, not the other way around. Do you wonder if there is anyone who can say it was you showing up in his courtroom and calling him, instead of the other way around? You know that proof of your lies is right around the corner, and you know how you changed your story about a key detail yet again, after your “Affidavit”
    You know it, and you know that Charlie knows it. The love of a good man,grey old Ronnie, cant change it Sheila, and it wont stop your nightmares. It wont change that you are the cause of this loss, and the pain of those children. When you are alone, and its quiet, can you hear him saying why are you doing this? You know how you haunted his thoughts all those days leading up to his death, you know what you did, lest there be no doubt, the haunting just begins for you. May it rip you apart from the deepest recesses of your mind. And you know it will Sheila. It’s just the begining Sheila. Try and sleep well, I doubt it

  7. His true friend says:

    Slant at 4:08am, Sheila a little tough sleeping, maybe a few nightmares, hearing his voice, remembering Charlie’s smile, thinking of little Emily’s pain. Sleep well dear Shiela,,,,,,I doubt it.

  8. Kirby says:

    y’all some sick mfs… lies, by definition, can’t hurt… only the truth hurts. If his pain came from this episode, that’s probably because the accusations are true, not false…

  9. Alexandra says:

    I think the focus on this blog should be to remember a good & decent man.

  10. Mariah says:

    I can’t tell you how distressed I was to hear of Charlies passing. I read it recently in the Skidmore directory and was totally shocked. He was a good friend of mine at College and I will miss him.

    Charlie was a great guy. 45 is way to young to go. RIP Charlie…

  11. JC says:

    He Was My Lawyer And He Handle My Case Very Well And I Move Other State And Just Pop My Mind And Remember His Name And See How He Doing But Now Find Out That He Passed Away He Was A Tough Tough Lawyer…