Judge Haunted By Her Struggle With Alcohol



My heart goes out to County Court Judge Gisele Pollack.


Gisele Pollack (photo courtsey of Browardbulldog.org)


This is a story that I have avoided mentioning. Since JAABLOG wrote today that the “main street media” are about to write about Pollack, I decided to post this.

Pollack has been struggling with alcohol for decades.

Recently she has been losing that struggle, writing irrational e-mails and finally on Tuesday yelling at courthouse personnel.  Chief Judge Peter Weinstein had to intervene and advise her to get treatment immediately, numerous sources told Browardbeat.com.

This is particularly sad for me, since I have been a fan of Pollack’s since she first ran in 2003.  I wrote this as an introduction to a profile about her that year:

“I never knew the waiter’s name. He kept it to himself, just like he does in Alcoholics Anonymous.

But the waiter knew Gisele Pollack ‘s name. She’s the assistant public defender who was eating lunch with me one day in downtown Fort Lauderdale. She was just telling me how she would make a good county court judge when the waiter suddenly leaned into our conversation.

“Ms. Pollack , do you remember me? You saved my life,” said the waiter. “I’m sober 2 1/2 years now.”

And Pollack teared up.

Not many candidates get that kind of testimonial. A lot of people in this community can say that about Pollack .”

I finished the column like this:

“Being down and out and recovering has taught Pollack a lot. She has compassion for those who hurt. She also knows firsthand about lies, excuses and evasions, because she’s heard them all.

Most of all, being drunk and now being sober has taught her to be fair. She knows people sometimes make mistakes and need a second chance.

It taught her to be open-minded.

Not bad traits to have if you want to be a judge.”

I still believe what I wrote.

Pollack went on to win election.

On the bench, she ran the drug court.  She tried to help people conquer the illness of substance abuse.

But while fighting to help others, she forgot she needed to help herself.

This is doubly sad since Pollack is a judge, as JAABLOG wrote, “who has dedicated her career to evening the playing field, and getting help for people like herself who struggle with a sometimes overpowering disease.”

My prayers are with you, Gisele.

The community’s prayers are with you, too.

We are all rooting for you.

39 Responses to “Judge Haunted By Her Struggle With Alcohol”

  1. Kevin says:

    This can happen to anybody. I sure hope she makes it.

  2. Ari Mandel says:

    Giselle Pollack & I have been personal friends for over a decade. I am proud of that friendship. I support her as a Judge, but more important, I support her as a person.

  3. Marty Kiar says:

    Judge Pollack is one of the most compassionate judges that we have had serve Broward County. I believe she has the strength and desire to overcome this difficulty. I am certain that she will continue to serve our community in the same manner that she has, which has made a positive difference for so many of our residents.

  4. Sandy says:

    Judge Pollack, like all human beings, has challenges but she is a strong woman with a solid moral compass. I am confident that she will continue her fight against an ugly disease so wish her all the best during this difficult time. Moreover, I feel sure that she will prevail and conquer her illness. The support of her friends is more important than ever as she works to move forward. Especially now, during this holiday season, let us all show her, and others with like problems, our compassion and support.

  5. Ann Zucker says:

    Judge Pollack has proven to be one of our wisest and most compassionate jurists. She is a strong lady. She has fought these demons and won before and she will do it again. I am proud to call Giselle Pollack a friend.

  6. Being Human says:

    This country needs to stop demonizing people with alcohol and substance abuse issues. We are incarcerating people when they should be free and receiving treatment.

    Good people have struggles we are not perfect.

    Het Michael Satz STOP sending drug offenders to prison…..

  7. Anonymous says:

    Judge Pollock saved my son’s life through her Drug Court, understanding his illness only as someone who has been through it could be.
    I pray she recovers quickly so that she can return to helping people. My son has been sober more than two years.

  8. Wake Up Broward says:

    I criticize many on this blog as hypocrites and criminals. But today, I wish Judge Pollack the best in beating her demons and continuing her important GOOD work. I hope all of us band together and support her.

  9. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    I love it. All you lawyers are now doctors and can make medical discoveries(she an addict etc). Even if she is an addict its a disease and don’t be surprised that she don’t sue you Chief Judge there…..

  10. Mary Macfie says:

    What needs to be said is that Judge Pollack is a great advocate for the citizens of Broward County. She is kind, caring, and compassionate. What else could anyone ask for in a judge???

    The Broward Coalition recognizes Giselle Pollack as a great human being, a great friend, and a great judge. The Board of Directors will stand with her, beside her, behind her, or in front of her. Whatever is necessary to protect her from scurrilous attacks by the jealous, the jaded, or the judgmental. For all of those who are seeming to be, “Holier than thou,” …”…let he who is without sin cast the first stone…”

    Judge Pollack, The Broward Coalition believes that you are an exemplary justice, We believe that you have helped so many who were floundering in Broward’s judicial system. Those who were doomed to be “involved” in the court system found that, through your efforts, there was a path to redemption. So many successfully navigated that path.

    Due to you, Judge Pollack, due to you. You have been, and will continue to be, an inspiration to those who have stumbled, as all of us have. Should you need any assistance from us, we stand ready to assist.

    Please keep up the fight. We have your back.

  11. Ron Mills says:

    Judge Pollock has been a positive force in the recovery community for decades, and has helped many many addicted persons in her career, Please give Judge Pollock the space to go through her own recovery experience, I have known Judge Pollock for over a decade, and know she will overcome this obstacle and once again make a difference in peoples lives

  12. Funny says:

    Reading these comments, I feel like I’m at an AA meeting. Good day Bob.
    Good luck to the Judge with her struggle, but showing up to work drunk/wasted is just not right.

  13. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    We stand by you, we’re proud of you, we’re thinking of you and wishing you well.


  14. Bina Fink says:

    Judge Pollack is the most caring and compassionate person. She is the BEST judge Broward County has.
    She is amazing not many people would continue working the day after their mother passes away, Judge Pollack did and she continue working because she loves our community and her job. God Bless you Judge Gisele Pollack for all the good that you do for Broward County.

  15. Barbara Miller says:

    I’m rooting for her. She is a spectacular person who cares about others.

  16. Jack Thompson says:

    Why in bloody Hell has The Florida Bar not suspended her Bar license? It is required to do so immediately. Guess she is getting protection because she is a judge, which is not allowed under The Bar’s selectively enforced Rules.

  17. Shirley and Simon Lewenberg says:


  18. Shirley and Simon Lewenberg says:


  19. John Hart says:


    You are and always have been someone I have admired for your compassion and your sense of justice. I was and continue to be proud of your contributions through your guidance and caring for others while serving on the bench. My support and prayers are with you as you deal with this round of challenges. I have no doubt you will be back helping others save their lives very soon.

  20. Susan Goldstein says:

    So very sorry to hear this. My prayers are with Gisele. I know she will find the strength to overcome this. Broward cannot afford to lose such a compassionate advocate on the bench. Get better soon Gisele. And let he who is without sin throw the first stone.

  21. Commissioner Carl Shechter says:

    I’ve known Giselle since 2003. Loved her courage then and still love her. I’ve asked her to swear me in for my two terms as Commissioner and hope she’ll be there with me again in March.

  22. Ron Gunzburger says:

    Judge Gisele Pollack is an outstanding, caring jurist who brings a human touch to the criminal justice system. I look forward to her recovery and speedy return to the bench.

  23. Wake Up Broward says:

    Commissioner Angelo Castillo should stay quiet….he is the type I am typing about.

  24. Real Deal says:

    Hey wake, the adults are speaking now. Go back inside and watch cartoons.

  25. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Judge Gisele is all of the good things everyone has said about her, and more.

    She has born crushing challenges and tragedies. I hope the community at large believes as most of the bloggers here do and reflect on the facts that she didn’t try to hide anything, didn’t lie about it either by omission or commission, but has struggled with it, and I know she will overcome.

  26. Ana Gomez-Mallada says:

    Gisele Pollack is an excellent Judge and a very decent human being. We are lucky to have her in Broward and I pray we keep her.

  27. Vinnie Grande says:

    Gisele, you are truly the definition of a compassionate, caring and genuine civic servant, who not only touches lives, but saves lives. Gisele, you will overcome and triumph, I know you will. This community needs you, now and for however long you choose to bless us with your heart, wisdom, attention, presence and being. And when you need to be supported, lean on us, let us be your rock and foundation.

  28. City Activist robert Walsh says:

    From this Judge being outed as an addict. To the Sun-Sentinel putting her on the front page is troubling. If she had breast cancer etc. do you think it would have made the Paper?(see what I mean). I have a ton of experience dealing w/ addictions(huh Bern). Again to out her is not right. However because she is a judge residing over drug cases(no less) I can see where some of you are screaming “double standard”. I think in the best interest to the public she should take a leave of absence and take care of herself. I am not an addict ,but as you know(some of you) I know plenty of people that are. I feel for this woman and especially for her family. Its very hard to deal w/ an addict. Constantly going off the wagon is heart breaking. Hang in there Judge , you will get through this and be a better person from all this. Remember God helps those who help themselves. Its funny my late mother’s Nero-Psch(thanks for the certificate for Molly) told me that I was an enabler for my fathers addiction(booze, pills, loose woman)& an enabler to my mother’s illness. Boy you manipulators have a wonderful way of finding us enablers. In my defense we do because we want to . Also these were my parents and if I had to do over again, I would have done even more….

  29. A drunk is a drunk says:

    A drunk is a drunk. If she killed someone while impaired would that be excused because you like her.
    If anyone else did this he or she would be dealt with harshly. She should not be given special treatment. Remove her from the bench.

  30. Sober As a Judge says:

    We all hope for her recovery through treatment. However if she cannot commit to sobriety and demonstrate reliable mental health then being a judge is not appropriate work for her. Judges hold power over the future of others. Until she can demonstrate mastery over these condition her judgments will be questioned. There is much more to this than merely wishing her well. She must succeed in this effort to regain control over her disease or she must step down for the good of all concerned.

  31. Crabgretch says:

    Judge Pollack is a judge that practices what she preaches. She is a mentor to every single person that comes through her Drug Court. She feels what they feel, she’s been there.

    I understand she lost her mother recently. This had to be horrific for Judge Pollack. Her Mother was her rock.

    Put your money on Judge Pollack, she’ll recover, she’ll be back!

  32. Paul Regan says:

    Will the person that believes they have helped more people recover than Gisele has please stand up?

    Will the person that thinks they are a better person than Gisele stand next to them?

    I believe this community owes more to her than can ever be repaid. Watch her turn this into an even more positive way to help others!

    What she does publicly to help others is immense and from the heart. What she does privately is even more.

    I, Paul Regan, stand as publicly in her corner as she has in so many others.

  33. Bob Adams says:

    Judge Pollack is one of the finest human beings on the bench! I wish her all the best with recovery. She is sorely needed!

  34. me too says:

    Being sober is hard work. God bless her. I bet she will find her way back to a better place.

  35. Oops says:

    She did it again!

  36. knowalltoowell says:

    Knew Gisele Pollack before she ever became a judge in Broward County. She should have been the FELONY drug court judge after Judge May went to the 4th DCA and not Judge Beach who singlehandedly destroyed most of felony drug court during her tenure there. She neither knew nor understood anything about addiction PERIOD. Gisele has and continues to “walk in their shoes” and if and when she gains her sobriety back will most likely be an even better drug court judge.

  37. Patty says:

    I am grateful to have met the wonderful and truly honorable Judge Gisele Pollack.Several years ago our mutual friend found herself in some danger as she had relapsed and strayed into a bad neighborhood.With tears in her eyes Ms Pollack did not hesitate to rise to the challenge to save her friend from harm.It is this memory of Ms. Pollack I remember so well. She is not only a devoted friend but truly a person of Honor.I am so sorry that she finds herself in her current predicament. It is my belief that the best among us, the best of humanity, are so busy helping others they forget to help themselves.Ms.Pollack shines in a sea of mediocrity and selfishness.
    Unlike Gisele they’re are those who are far from selfless yet they remain active in the Broward County legal community. Case in point is Joyce Julian who in 2002 was found inebriated and arrested for disorderly conduct in a hotel lobby in Amelia Island yet remains a practicing attorney here in the Broward courthouse. It is disgraceful that the Broward County legal system would allow this to happen.My heartfelt thoughts are with you Gisele Pollock . I pray that she feels better and better everyday. As long as I live I’ll never forget the day you went to help me look for our friend. She will recover.I am praying and pulling for you.God bless you Gisele Pollack!

  38. Jean says:

    It is refreshing to see comments from those who know Ms. Pollack. I did not know her, but I admire her for the work she has done. It sounds like she relapsed in December and never quite made it back from that. I also hope she will recover from this relapse. WIth a sufficient commitment and showing of recovery, I don’t see why she shouldn’t be allowed to return.

  39. Betty says:

    I’ve had the honor of knowing Gisele for over 40 years and I honor her today the same as I honored her so many years ago. She is an amazing lady who does so very much for each and every one of us and I can only hope and pray that she finds the peace that she so desperately seeks now. She recently lost her mother, who she was very close to and she also has a son who has some medical problems. She has prevailed her entire life through perseverance and she will do the same again. I look forward to the day I can once again hug her and tell her everything will be all right. Things in life have a way of working out and she will make herself a better person once the fog has lifted and she realizes that she is not alone and that she has so many people who truly love her.
    Gisele Pollack is held to a higher standard but above all else, she is a human being first and foremost. I only wish the media and those negative people would leave her alone. God Bless Gisele Pollack.