Judge Gisele Pollack Suspended Without Pay



Broward County Judge Gisele Pollack was suspended without pay by the Florida Supreme Court late Friday for repeated incidents of alcohol abuse.

Pollack is reportedly undergoing rehab. A recovering alcoholic when she was first elected in 2004, Pollack fell back into alcohol abuse recently because of family problems.

She was the long-time jurist presiding over the county’s Drug Court for substance abusers.




Below is both the formal charges and the suspension order.


Formal charges:




Suspension order (click to enlarge):



Here is a piece I wrote in 2003 when she was running for office:

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.

For nine years, Pollack has been a public defender in Broward County’s Drug Court. That’s the intervention treatment program for minor substance abuse offenders.

Drug Court is the last stop before the Big House. Or the cemetery. If you clean up and live right, you get a second chance.

Intensive and highly structured, Drug Court has its participants jumping through hoops to prove they are sober. They take frequent urine tests, have regular sessions with counselors and must participate in group meetings.

If the program is successfully completed, the charges are either dropped or reduced.

Taxpayers are the winners. Drug Court costs about $2,500 for a year’s treatment, compared to maybe $30,000 to house an inmate in prison. Most of all, lives are restored.

In a study, offenders were surveyed for four years. Only 15 percent of those who graduated from the Drug Court had committed a felony. But of those who refused to attend the Drug Court or who dropped out of the program, about 80 percent committed a felony.

Drug Court’s most notable current participant is state Sen. Mandy Dawson, D-Fort Lauderdale. She was busted in October 2002 and charged with altering a prescription for a narcotic painkiller.

Dawson entered the program in November. If she completes the one-year treatment, which includes daily group therapy, the felony charges will be dismissed.

The senator has her own lawyer. Hundreds of other abusers over the past nine years haven’t had the money for a lawyer. They’ve needed Pollack.

When she needed a hand, others were there to reach out.

In the midst of a divorce, she tried to drown her sorrows in a river of vodka. After missing a court appearance, she pulled out of her tailspin and entered recovery. Pollack has been sober for 11 years.

She still attends Alcoholics Anonymous, now not only to help herself, but to help others.

“I live to help people,” Pollack says.

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.





23 Responses to “Judge Gisele Pollack Suspended Without Pay”

  1. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    I wish Judge Gisele Pollack a speedy recovery from her ailment. She has a long road ahead of her. She showed compassion to others by choosing to be involved in drug court. I hope Broward County shows the same compassion to her.

  2. Abolish the BOCC says:

    Why not the other judge too?

  3. Wayne Arnold says:

    I completely agree with the comment of Mr. Ladanowski.

    As for me I do not know the Judge but I too wish everything works out for her. Too often some people would rather kick a person when they are down instead of lending a helping hand. Wishing her the best in this difficult time.

  4. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    Gisele Pollack is a sincere and genuinely good human being. She’s had severe hardships in her life and rather than allow them to make her bitter, she took her pain and converted it into fuel to help others.

    Hundreds, if not some thousands of people struggling with addictions have been helped along in life because Gisele cared.

    It’s real easy to take pot shots at people when they’re down. Or to praise them when they are on the upswing. But I’m going to remind those of lesser character that the very same woman we deservedly praised for being so kind and giving to others, is the same person we today see struggling to regain her life and dignity.

    Good people never turn their back on any person in need of help. I sure won’t, especially not her, especially given what she’s done for so many others. No way.

    So I wish her all the very best knowing that she is a good person fighting a difficult battle. She should know that she has the support of many who know her, who admire her, who respect and care for her still, and who continue to root for her success.

    Most of us should hope to have a fraction of Judge Pollack’s qualities as a human being. My respect for her is not diminished even one bit because she has stumbled. She has my every good wish to recover and get well soon.

    I want to see her recover and then restored to her position, I hope to see that recovery sustained and I hope to vote for her again when she runs. I want her to be a symbol of human endurance and determination.

    As a good friend of mine is fond of saying, persons with addictions are not a problem people. They are people with problems. Let’s get her the help she needs and help her move on just as she has done for countless others.

    We stand with you Gisele.



  5. Courthouse Observer says:

    What happens to her medical insurance?

  6. Lawyer Bob says:

    Our hearts go out to Gisele Pollack. The Supreme Court was right in its suspension. It is a bad example if she continued in her job so while she heals, she can not be on the bench.

  7. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Looks like Circuit Judge Marc Gold should be suspended without pay too… The Sun-Sentinel reports that Broward Circuit Judge Marc Gold “put a stop to the [corruption] trial of Al Capellini on Friday, finding the former Deerfield Beach mayor not guilty of unlawful compensation without waiting to hear what a jury thought of the evidence presented during the two-week trial.”

    Our friend Chaz explains the problem here:


    [Chaz quoting local blogger Jeff Sayles…]
    At trial this week, Capellini admitted he made a mistake. He should have abstained and filed a disclosure, as required by law. He was a paid engineering consultant for the developer, Deerfield Park Developers, Inc., and served as a lobbyist for the office project at county.

    It was an oversight, he claims. The item was on the consent agenda and he hadn’t read the agenda. That revelation alone is disturbing. A couple of weeks later, he testified, he realized his mistake, but there was no going back. The consent agenda is the part of the agenda routinely approved by the commission, usually without much discussion.

    Assuming that the newspaper account of his testimony is accurate, Capellini is not telling the truth. The plat item was not on the consent agenda, but was Item #2 of the Quasi-Judicial Hearings portion of the agenda. In fact, according to the minutes, Capellini departed the meeting (for undisclosed reasons) before the consent agenda was voted on.

    [now Chaz comments…]
    We’ve really got nothing else to add, as Sayles’ efforts captured the very essence of the situation.

    Capellini lied, and Judge Marc Gold let him skate.

  8. Gisele, my friend and mentor says:

    One person who needs to be thanked is Rhoda Sokoloff. Rhoda exposed that someone close to Gisele was using her. It was Rhoda who showed Gisele that this so called friend called Bob Norman in December to interview Gisele when she was at her most vulnerable. The betrayal by this so called friend was exposed by Rhoda and no one will ever know how important this will be to Gisele’s recovery in the future. This so called friend and enabler had to go adios and Rhoda stepped up to make it happen

    Rhoda has been there for Gisele when others turned their back. Rhoda was and is her protector and greatest friend. I know Rhoda didn’t help Gisele to get something out of her like the former friend. Rhoda’s good deeds and unfaltering friendship of Gisele deserve recognition.

    I know Gisele would agree, a great day will be the one when she returns to the bench and they both can be Judges together.

  9. Chaz Stevens, Tea Party Antagonist says:

    Capellini’s defense … Bogenschutz’s fee … are to be paid by the taxpayer.

    $600,000 is the figure I am hearing.

  10. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    This judge not only was given a secound chance but many that followed. What alot of you have been to this woman is an “enabler”. From excuse after alibi etc for her actions from being drunk in court proceddings that she presides over, to her being drunk and barrel-assin into a car parked at a red light. So a select few from her attorney to chief judge etc, make excuses for her. From her mother dying(join the club) to her addiction being so overwhelming that its behound her ccontol etc. Folks live and what it deals you is what you make of it. I personally have dealt w/ a family member that had a serious proplem w/ addiction(both booze/pills) and what did I do be an enabler. Make everything nice-nice to jusifing my father’s actions. I couldn’t cure his addictions nor could I cure Alzheimers. It was always about my father. Come hell or high water from making up excuses for Bernie. To going up against local Tampa-bay mobsters. To running a very profitable fake hand bag business etc. Its was always about my father. Throw in the strippers(impreganated two) . I mean yes I was a good son(overrated)but at what cost. What I should have done is this insanity stops and either you get sober or I’m gone . No what I did is what some of you above mentioned do , make excuses, cover up etc. My way didn’t work(although I did my best). My father passed away at the age of 59. Go to rehab judge, confront your demons and ask God to give you the power to stay sober. If some of you stick to this plan this whole ordeal will be a distant memory. Good luck…

  11. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Gisele is a wonderful person whose family tragedies would crush most people I know. If she’s lost her health insurance because of the suspension without pay, Buddy, can you find out if anyone’s starting a fund to help her with the rehab costs? If there’s not one, can we start one?

    I find it disturbing to say the least that the Court wouldn’t allow her to receive pay; she’s ill and needs help.

  12. Rhoda makes me puke says:

    What is next, since Pollack is suspended she is now able to endorse Rhoda from rehab? I am sorry for pollacks troubles but the person who uses them to promote a judicial candidate is really the sick one.

  13. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    Ask god to give you the power to stay sober?

    Good luck with that. Maybe santy will finally bring you that GI Joe doll you’ve always wanted.

  14. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Detailed account of the end of the Cappellini trial here – Circuit Judge Marc Gold dismissed the charges because (get this) he didn’t see any evidence that Cappellini had corrupt intent!


  15. ARE YOU KIDDING ME says:

    In reply to: “Gisele, my friend and mentor says:”
    #1…Giselle wont be a judge anymore after this fiasco. Don’t get me wrong, I like her personally and she is a sweet lady, but she blew it as a judge.
    #2…Rhoda is one person that doesn’t belong on the bench, ever. She shows her lack of judicial conduct at all events, some that she has no business attending as she blatantly politicks. She is obnoxious and one can only imagine what type of reckless monster she would be on the bench!In fact, the only “bench” she should be on is in the park feeding the pigeons. Sorry Rhoda Sok-it-up you don’t have my vote.

  16. Oh Really says:

    Gisele, my friend and mentor says:
    Must be Rhoda, only Rhoda would be delusional, enough, to believe anyone would believe anything
    positive about Rhoda

  17. my new career as a judge wannabee says:

    Rhoda honey, your practice must be in the toilet since you’ve made a career of running for judge for the past, how many years 3?, 4? more? Give it up! Please! All your kissing up to the usuals ain’t gonna get you a judicial position. And if the general John/Jane Q. public has any common sense they will skip over your name on the ballet, that is if you should by some fluke make it past the primary.

  18. Ba Ba Ba Bina says:

    I think there is a Fink in da his house.

  19. Andrew Markoff says:

    It would be nice, I surmise, if commentators here either stopped or were prevented from using false, let alone mocking monikers, pseudonyms or whatever you want to call them.

    Under the cover of a false name, the insults, degradation and cruelty festers, even when discussing personal tragedies and our judicial community.

    I never understand why some people appear to feel little to no compunction about publicly insulting other people, most of whom are trying to navigate life and careers in perhaps the only way they know how to. I often believe that one candidate for a seat is a far better option than another candidate, but I reserve my outright insults and name calling pretty much just for Rick Scott. But that guy’s actually evil, not simply confused.

    Criticism and some perspectives based on personal experience might actually be helpful, especially while we’re trying to figure out the candidates on the next ballot or a situation such as a judge getting into trouble with the law, but do we want to behave like bitter, frustrated dry drunks?

    In other words, do we want to engage in the disturbed rhetoric of the likes of Chaz Stevens? I would hope not.

    Think again. Think twice. People put themselves out there to serve the community or even just to pretend that they want to do that. They have feelings, however, and for most of the time, I feel for them. Not all of the time, but certainly for most of the time.

  20. Chaz Stevens, Markoff's BFF says:

    >> In other words, do we want to engage in the disturbed rhetoric of the likes of Chaz Stevens? I would hope not.

    Seriously… Is this your first time on the Internet?

    Man up sissy boy. I’d pass you a towel to dry your eyes, but I don’t have a pink one handy.

    Time to get your estradiol levels in check.

  21. blah blah blah says:

    Andrew, were you trying to make a point? I think its called FREEDOM OF SPEECH. And at least when Chaz makes a comment he has a point although I don’t always agree with him. I even agree halfway with your opinion of Rick Scott except he isn’t confused, just greedy with a personal agenda but he certainly doesn’t belong in the Gov.’s mansion.
    We are ALL entitled to make comments anonymously if people like Rhoda and Pollock and now Rosenthal are out there f-ing up our community. So chillax as you spew your comments on community blogs.

  22. Narrow Minded Stone Throwers says:

    Freedom of Speech was developed by good intelligent people who cared about society. Only narrow-minded cowards take that to mean that it’s OK to say whatever idiotic thing that comes to the point of your head. So…next time you see a mentally challenged child, point at them and call them a retard…tell pregnant women how fat they are…and be sure to remind the guy with AIDS that he’ll soon die. Just because you CAN say doesn’t mean you SHOULD say it…unless you’re a narrow-minded coward who lives a perfect life. And the fact that the internet allows cowards to lie in the weeds doesn’t exactly make it right. Being a keyboard bully is so easy. When your brain grows in, try growing a heart as well.

  23. Chaz Stevens, Markoff's BFF says:

    >> So…next time you see a mentally challenged child, point at them and call them a retard…

    Andrew… you are a retard…