JQC Hangs Over Judicial Robing Ceremony


Mardi Levey Cohen was robed as a county judge Friday while the audience wondered whether her husband Judge Dale Cohen soon will be stripped of his robe.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission is seeking sanctions against Cohen at the same time his wife is taking office.

The Cohen’s plight was whispered about during the robbing ceremony for eight judges sponsored by the Broward Bar at the courthouse.  Nothing like a judge threatened with being tossed out of  his job to loosen legal tongues.

Cohen is alleged to have used his courtroom to intimidate and embarrass a supporter of one of his wife’s opponents in the 2008 election.  She lost that one, but won in 2010.

Mardi Levey Cohen

Here is my take:

Dale Cohen is fighting cancer.  He joked while introducing his wife that he was “on the cancer diet where you lose 30 pounds and all your hair.

Why would he fight the JQC, demanding a public hearing last week, unless he was facing something really serious —  suspension or removal from office.

The JQC also can recommend a private reprimand or a public reprimand.  Would a judge facing a life-threatening disease use what free time he has to fight against a reprimand?

I don’t think so.

So I believe he is facing suspension or removal, the two most serious possible recommendations the JQC can make to the Supreme Court.  The Supremes have the final decision.

The JQC hearing panel makes its recommendation later this year.  After they do, the Broward courthouse might lose one of the Judge Cohens.

(Dale Cohen’s attorney Mike Catalano says the judge is not facing removal from office. See his comment below.)


Trinchi would have been beaming.

The late condominium boss Amadeo “Trinci” Trinchitella was so politically powerful that presidents and governors regularly called him and stopped by Century Village of Deerfield Beach to see him.

Yet the fame, clout and thousands of voters in his pocket didn’t get him what he really wanted.  He wanted to see his grandson Nick Lopane become a judge.

He died almost six years ago never living to see Friday what would have been one of his proudest moments as  Lopane was robed as a new circuit judge.

Not that Trinchi didn’t try to get Lopane elected.  But even this seemingly all-powerful Democratic leader couldn’t  get voters to accept his grandson.

It took Republican/Independent Gov. Charlie Crist to appoint Lopane.

Former Attorney General Bob Butterworth introduced Lopane to the crowd, most of whom knew the long-time courthouse general master.

Butterworth made an embarrassing faux pas that caused tittering in some parts of the crowd.  Describing the very large Lopane, he said he was about “5 feet taller than I am and..  and he held his arms out wide, indicating a very heavy person.

Lopane took it all in stride.  He said he learned early the value of hard work.  He said he was told, “You don’t work, you don’t eat.  Then referencing his size, he said, “As you can see, I learned how to work.


New Circuit Judge Sandra Perlman touchingly pointed out “the most instrumental part of my family” in the audience –her lawyer boyfriend Brian Silber, who works a block from the courthouse.

Perlman, who worked 20 years in the public defenders office,  soothed the fears of prosecutors like State Attorney Mike Satz in the audience with:  “I’ve taken off my PD hat and become a judge and that means listening to both sides.

She tried to thank Public Defender Howard Finkelstein personally jokingly calling him “Ponytail– but he was the notable no-show at the event.


There was a little lobbying going on at the robing ceremony.

Chief Judge Vic Tobin couldn’t resist speaking his mind when he spotted State Sen. Chris Smith and state Rep. Perry Thurston in the audience.

Looking at Smith and Thurston, Tobin gestured towards the dozens of judges sitting together near the front of the room.  The chief judge referred to the state budget crisis by saying: “Don’t let them take these fine peoples pensions away.

Judges and other public employees are worried that Tallahassee is going to change the pension’s formula for annual cost of living increases, among other things.

Smith and Thurston Broward Democrats who will have no real decision on what happens to judicial pensions under the new GOP administration of Gov. Rick Scott just smiled.


Perhaps the most famous non-lawyer in the crowd was Herman Pittman, the fabled basketball coach at Dillard and Deerfield Beach High during a 37-year career.  He coached four state championship teams and was state coach of the year four times. The Dillard High gym is named the Herman Pittman gym.

Pittman was introduced from the stage by Circuit Judge Michael Robinson, who was robed by his wife, Judge Mary Rudd Robinson. Robinson’s robing was cheered by dozens of youths who attended to see him and his relatives, which included several church leaders.

“I love this countryI’m living the dream, said Robinson  “I thank (former Gov.) Charlie Crist for his wisdom.

Robinson was appointed by Crist.

Michael Robinson (Picture courtesy of JAABlog)


Much of Broward’s political/legal establishment attended the robing.  That included political operatives Barbara Miller, Dan Lewis, Amy Rose and Jack Shifrel.

I saw former Judges Petro Dijols and Barry Stone.  Broward Mayor Sue Gunzburger was there.  So was Commissioner Chip LaMarca, who was thanked by Robinson for helping him get appointed to the bench.

Democratic leader Mitch Ceasar stood near the door like a greeter shaking hands.  Bail bonds king Wayne Spath kibbitzed with Browardbeat.com guest columnist, Sam Fields, a defense attorney.  (I discovered Spath grew up near me in Hollywood.)

I talked with Don Maines, former Southwest Ranches commissioner who is an addiction recovery specialist, and real estate attorney and lobbyist Ali Waldman.  State Attorney Satz and his deputy Chuck Morton sat  in a backrow.

Sunrise Commissioners Don Rosen and Sheila Alu, who is a prosecutor, were there.  So was former Sunrise Mayor Steve Effman and his Democratic activist wife, Barbara Effman.

And, of course, Clerk of the Courts Howard Forman was there a host.

I’m missing many and I’m sorry for that. Feel free to comment with additional names.

10 Responses to “JQC Hangs Over Judicial Robing Ceremony”

  1. Courthouse Watcher says:

    I think Barbara Miller’s husband should be mentioned. James Fox Miller was there. He was president of the Florida Bar.

  2. Mr. Courthouse says:

    Mr. Nevins,
    Why are you always dragging Sam Fields into your stories and your blogs? Half the lawyers in the courthouse believe you are propping up his failing practice.

  3. Not true says:

    Dale Cohen is cancer free. He is recovering from treatment and is no longer facing a life threatening illness. People beat cancer every day. His was caught early. Didn’t your neighbor Mrs. Finklestein beat cancer? Or do you remind her everyday how she is terminal?

    The JQC is not even considering removing Dale Cohen from office. His transgression was minor. And this was all revealed in his ethics hearing last week. Judges get removed for much more serious behavior. Buddy, didn’t you read Jaablaw and see what your idol Howard Finklestein said about this case? It’s alot to do about nothing.

    Dale Cohen suspected that an attorney was lying. Was the lawyer behaving ethical? No. The lawyer may have issues with the Florida Bar.

    Dale Cohen chose a final hearing on this matter for the same reason that many people go to trial… to have his day in court… and he has that right. There’s nothing suspect about that decision. He admitted a mistake. Many judges make mistakes on legal issues…. but that should never rise to the level of a JQC complaint.

    Buddy, you clearly hate the Cohen’s. They are good people. Have you ever met them? Or do you just listen to the gossip…. the lies… and the hate. Get a life Buddy.


    Mr. Not True,

    Why would I hate the Cohens?

    I met Mardi for coffee at Starbucks and was impressed by her. I believe she is qualified to be a judge.

    I have never met her husband.

    The post above is my interpretation of the JQC events taking place.

    I truly hope that your statement is true that Mr. Cohen is cancer free. Remember, he raised the issue of cancer at the robing…not me.

    You may be right and I may be wrong about Mr. Cohen and the JQC. He may be totally cleared and all the allegations could be fallacious.

    I wish no ill will to either of them.

    A lot of people — many of them lawyers — have a different interpretation of the JQC hearing than you, Mr. Not True. They believe the Cohens did exactly what the JQC alleges they did.

    The Supremes will decide.

    By the way, I do have a life. A very, very good one.

    Thank you very much for contributing. Different points of views are the best thing about the Internet and, I hope, one of the best things about Browardbeat.com.


  4. Bigots says:

    Nobody should forget that Mardi Cohen, or whatever she calls herself today, ran against Pedro Dijols two years ago because he had a Spanish name. It makes lawyers like me whose parents come from Cuba and whose name is clearly Hispanic wonder how fairly I will be treated in her court. I’m waiting to see. As far as Dale Cohen, he is a non-entity in the courthouse.

  5. more drama says:

    Did you see the Hollywood cop near the exit? That is Louie Granteed(sp?) he has been lining up democratic support for his run for Sheriff. Lamberti didnt even show up until the end when he heard Louie was there.

  6. Mike says:

    I wish you would have called me and asked me about the case BEFORE you published this.

    I am Dale Cohen’s lawyer. Unlike you and many others who have commented on the JQC matter, I actaully know what happened and why Dale Cohen is NOT looking at being removed from office.

    Mike Catalano

  7. Broward Attorney says:

    Dale Cohen helding a hearing on a lawyer’s motion to recuse him and called his wife as a witness. If you read the transcript you’ll see it was a kangaroo court and Judge Dale Cohen acted highly inappropriate.
    Mr Not True sounds like Dale, Mardi or Dale’s lawyer Catalano.
    As a lawyer who has been practicing in Broward for almost 30 years, I agree with Buddy’s assessment. Dale Cohen will be booted from the bench or suspended by the JQC and the Fla Supreme Court.

  8. Las Olas Lawyer says:

    I agree with Broward Attorney. Dale Cohen admitted he violated many of the ethical canons governing judges. He used his position as a judge to publicly bully an opponent of his wife’s campaign. What could be worse? The JQC must act to slap him down hard and even throw him off the bench.
    I would bet that Mardi is behind all this anyway. He said yesterday that Mardi wears the pants in the house and that he learned that minutes after he said “I do.” Then he testified to the JQC he never talked with her about the reason she was being called to testify in his court. That is not believable given what everybody knows about their marriage and given his comments at the courthouse yesterday.

  9. Broward Attorney says:

    The last judge to lie to the JQC, Ana Gardiner, resigned in fear of being booted from the bench.
    Dale Cohen and his lawyer don’t get it. You can’t just apologize and try to minimize your actions.
    Being a judge is a privilege not a right.

  10. Nevins Writing, Fields Words says:

    Anyone at the ceremony saw Nevins was standing with Sam Fields. This entire article about the Cohens might be written by Nevins or is it really written by Sam Fields? Mr. Fields’ feelings on the subject is well known.