Judges Meeting On Scandal Accomplish Little




Dozens of Broward County judges met Wednesday behind closed doors to deal with their biggest collective problem – the court’s image.

So what did they do?

They spend a good deal of time pontificating. Get that many judges in one room and you are going to hear opinions.

Then they used up some time attacking a blogger, JAAblog’s Bill Gelin.

Nothing concrete was accomplished, according to several attending the meeting.

The county court system has been racked by scandal in recent months. Hence the meeting.

Three judges are facing charges of driving under the influence.

A fourth, Judge Laura Watson, is facing removal from office for actions when she was a private attorney before taking the bench.  She is alleged to have negotiated a settlement that prevented co-counsel from obtaining compensation.  She also allegedly deprived clients of the chance for money.

The state Judicial Qualification Commission has recommended Watson be removed from the bench.

A fifth, former Judge Ana Gardiner, was disbarred less than 24 hours after the meeting.

The Supreme Court decision on Gardiner is here.   It makes for juicy reading.

These judges are in trouble for personnel failings.

The DUI judges – Giselle Pollack, Cyndy Imperato and Lynn Rosenthal – got behind the wheel at the wrong time.

Watson? She was just greedy and it caught up to her.

(The tragic part of Watson’s story is that her greed was known before the 2012 election and she still won. Voters (and the media) weren’t paying enough attention. I wrote at least one post, but I plead guilty of not emphasizing the complaint against Watson during the campaign.)

Gardiner? She had an “emotional relationship” with a prosecutor during a murder trial and then tried to cover it up in a “deliberate act of dishonesty and deceitfulness,” according to the Florida Supreme Court.

None of these problems are the fault of Gelin. JAAblog is simply the messenger.

Gelin performs a service by making the judiciary more transparent and more accountable. If he quit tomorrow, somebody else would take his place.  This is just life in public office in the era of New Media.

Judges have the most problem with the unfiltered comments on JAAblog. I got a suggestion. Don’t read them…or sue.

I have a friend who sued over a comment on a local paper’s website. Through the lawsuit, which cost some money, my friend found out exactly who was putting anonymous, toxic comments on a website.

It is important to remember that the vast majority of Broward’s judges are going to work, doing their job and living within the strict Code of Judicial Conduct. Most of them are good judges and some are excellent judges.

The few judges who violated The Code won’t change that fact. That’s a good thing to keep in mind.


9 Responses to “Judges Meeting On Scandal Accomplish Little”

  1. Unemployed Lawyer (retired) says:

    Great article Buddy. These pompous robe-wearers want to blame everybody but themselves. Jaab and Bill Gelin have served Broward well. A lot of this stuff would have been swept under the rug 20 years ago.

  2. John Henry says:

    And we’ve just built these people a brand new courthouse?

  3. Fake Sam Fields says:

    I’ll be glad to cheer up judges with an offensive sex joke during a serious hearing.

  4. Boris says:

    Can’t sue if it’s true!!

  5. History Repeats Itself says:

    Blame Jaablog, blame Judges who are alleged to collaborate with the blog.

    This is the same arguments that Judge Dale Ross put out there right before he resigned as Chief Judge and brought about Tobin and Weinstien.

    What is next is Weinstein going get immunity for Sahk Danji and bring him back as the diversity/pr guy for the 17th.

  6. Don't sweat it buddy says:

    Maybe if Julio Gonzalez wasn’t such a horrible candidate and his campaign manager Judy Stern was not so inept as to fail to get the word out on watson things would have been different.

    Got with stern you get stern burn.

  7. The Long Black Robe (Ret) says:

    Peter Weinstein “Explained himself” and that is as far as he can go. Judges are independently elected or appointed. The chief judge has little control over them. The meeting was a waste of time since the chief judge could have put it all in a memo.

  8. Gelin is no hero says:

    Gelin comments to the media and his blog have not been helpful concerning these judges charged with driving impaired. He criticizes Chief Judge Weinstein needlessly. Chief Judge Weinstein can not do anything to stop other judges from drinking. He has reassigned the judges to non-criminal matters. To remove them before they have their day in court would be a violation of the precept “Innocent Until Proven Guilty.”

  9. Sam The Sham says:

    Why is it that the last five judges who have had problems are all women? What is up with that?

    There are probably lots of reasons for it but I’m thinking that one problem is that the electorate and appointing authorities are so desirous of having diversity on the bench that they don’t vet the candidates as well as they might otherwise.