Potshots At A Broward Judge: Fair or Unfair?






Some folks believe that Broward Circuit Judge Matthew Destry needs a lesson in common courtesy.

He habitually shows up late in court, keeping lawyers, jurors and spectators waiting.

Destry says he is getting a bad rap.

“I know I’m out there. I’m the judge and I get the criticism. (But) the criticism is unfair,” he says.



Is it?

Destry scheduled a hearing Tuesday on a high profile case at 8:30 a.m. He waltzed into the courtroom at 9:49 a.m.

He never sent word to his crowded courtroom that he would be delayed.

I’m told by critics that this is nothing new for Destry.

“He runs a horrible courtroom. He has a time management problem. He has no understanding for other peoples’ time,” one attorney who has practiced in front of him says.

Destry has a vastly different take on the situation.

He says his court starts at 8:30 a.m. because that is when prisoners arrive from the jail. He doesn’t take the bench until 9:15 to 9:30 a.m. deliberately.

The late arrival is designed to expedite cases, giving lawyers time to work out plea agreements.

“I give those in custody time to talk to their lawyers. A lot of time an agreement is worked out (that avoids a trial),” Destry says.

He says the lawyers and staff who regularly appear in his courtroom know his schedule, which I confirmed with several courthouse denizens.

The courthouse crowd has another complaint about Destry’s work hours.  They say the judge regularly keeps court in session late into the evening with no regard for the personal or family commitments of the lawyers, spectators, jurors or staff.

In a highly publicized incident earlier this year, Destry kept his court in session until 11 p.m., Friday, on Halloween because he believed cases needed to be heard.

“He appears indifferent to anybody’s needs except his own,” a noted lawyer told Browardbeat.com. “His only concern is his own needs and he doesn’t care if you have pre-paid trips, if you planned Halloween with your kids, if you have appointments, or anything else going on.  The only plans that count are his.”

Destry defends his Halloween night session:

“I had people who wanted their cases heard. I didn’t want to tell them, ‘Come back Monday’…

“The main criticism of government is that we don’t work hard. And when we do work hard, until 11 p.m. to hear cases, there is criticism that we are keeping everybody here. I was here, too.”

Destry says he hears the criticism. He hears the talk behind his back.

“He’s one of two or three judges who never gives the defendant a break,” one lawyer says.

The Defense Bar whispers: Destry is a hanging judge, a stooge for the prosecution.

The labels are understandable based on his history.

Destry was a prosecutor on Florida’s West Coast for over eight years and then an assistant statewide prosecutor for then-Attorney General Charlie Crist.

In 2008 after Crist was elected governor, he appointed Destry to the bench.

Now the 56-year-old bachelor decides the fate of defendants from courthouse office with a view of the New River worthy of a luxury condo. Sprinkled among his law books are hints of his life outside the law — the autobiography of Rolling Stone Keith Richards and “Moby Dick”, which he claims to have actually read, and a pair of huge speakers that tower over the room.

A stereo purist, Destry explains that the tinny sound screeching from the speakers at most parties offend his ears. So he brought his speakers into the office to be lent out to use at holiday parties and other events.

Earlier this year, Destry considered leaving the bench when his term expires in 2016. He believed he could make three or four times as much in the private sector without the stress of having to make decisions about people’s lives.

He talked to his Dad. His Dad asked him why did he need more money? Then he remembered he was doing a public service. He decided to stay on the bench…for now.

Destry says hopes by the time he leaves his courtroom,  “I would like people to say that Matt Destry was a good guy. That what I did here made a difference.”

Until he finally decides to hang up his robe, sentences that some believe are harsh will continue. And courtrooms will just have to continue put up with his late starts.





(On Tuesday Browardbeat.com published an article headlined “Broward Judge Labeled Arrogant and Rude.” It concerned allegations that Circuit Judge Matthew Destry was repeatedly late to court and kept lawyers, defendants, spectators and jurors waiting. In preparing the story, I called Destry and left a message on his courthouse answering machine. I called him a second time before posting the article and no one answered. Figuring he was ducking me and didn’t want to be interviewed, I published the piece about the judge. A few hours later, Destry called back after reading the post. He said he never got my message and asked for an in-person interview. He never requested that I take my original post off line. I decided to kill the original piece because it didn’t have his comments and I now knew he wanted to talk. I didn’t have to do that. I did it to be fair and present a complete picture of the controversy….Buddy Nevins.)


14 Responses to “Potshots At A Broward Judge: Fair or Unfair?”

  1. Lawyer Man says:

    Your are gullible, Buddy. The judge is far from the no spin zone.

  2. Party of Hate and Intolerance says:

    “In 2008 after Crist was elected governor, he appointed Destry to the bench.”
    So he is a republican. I didn’t know republicans judges could be elected county wide so easily. Good information for all to have for 2016.

  3. everything in moderation says:

    There are other ways to rebut the presumption that government employees don’t work hard than keeping people away from their children on Halloween.

  4. tone deaf says:

    For a guy who loves stereo sound it is amazing how tone deaf he is.

    First, “people wanted their cases heard” which is why he went 11pm on Halloween. For any criminal practitioner this is complete bullshit. What “people” wanted their cases heard? While I do not know this particular case, I would guess it was a trial and he probably held out a Jury who was deadlocked. He makes it sound like other lawyers were there at 11pm to have their clients cases heard, untrue.

    “Come back Monday” is told to Defendants all the time, most times it takes a couple of hearings to announce ready for trial to get to an actual trial due to backlog.

    As to the scheduling issue, this is BS as well. It is known in the courthouse that if Court is set at 830 am the Judge usually takes the bench between at 9 so to give the parties an opportunity to talk.

    What is more common with Judge Destry is to show up between 930-945. Many times in that Courtroom the State doesn’t even show up until 915 because they know it is likely the Judge wont take the bench until 945.

    One good thing was his JA she was great to work with. I heard she left on maternity leave and never came back.

  5. The Guess Who says:

    This article will be appearing in several mail and electronic pieces against Destry in 2016 so long as an opponent shows up.

  6. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Am I the only one who finds someone critizing someone under the name “Party of Hate and Intolerance” to have THEIR OWN PROBLEMS with both Hate and Intolerance! “So he’s a Republican”, so was Abraham Lincoln, Sherman as in Sherman Anti-Trust Act, Theodore Roosevelt who created our National Parks and found the Trusts, etc. Every time someone starts in mindlessly on the Republican Party as opposed to say Cruz or Mike Lee or Lowry at the National Review or some of the Fox News loonies who are full of intolerance and hate, you know THEY HAVE A PROBLEM, TOO!

  7. modeengunch says:

    What does his being a bachelor lend to this? I don’t know Destry, but this looks like a cheap shot.

  8. carolina says:

    Now, Come on Judge, if you worked in the private sector & were constantly late, you know what the outcome would be – A pink slip on payday! Set your alarm earlier, get up, have a nice breakfast, & be on the bench at the appointed time & you won’t have to suffer any criticism at all. From what I am reading – you are your own worst enemy.

  9. BFD says:

    c’mon folks
    its called “Situational Power”

    get over it

  10. Señor Censor says:

    Reading between the lines. This is a smear campaign by the supporters of Stephanie Kraft Cabal “Get out of jail free card”, Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

    “He’s one of two or three judges who never gives the defendant a break,” one lawyer says.

    The Defense Bar whispers: Destry is a hanging judge, a stooge for the prosecution.

    If you would like a break “Barrister” go to New York or Hollywood.

    Keep up the good work Judge Destry.

  11. Señor Censor says:

    Keep up the great work Judge Destry.

    This is clearly a smear campaign by the supporters of a recently convicted political figure.

  12. frankie says:

    The judge must think the public is dumb with his feeble excuses. There is NO EXCUSE for having others wait for him to show up, except rudeness, This guy’s mother and father should have taught him better.

  13. Dependency Judge says:

    If you think Destry needs time managment you should go hang out at a certain male dependency judge’s courtroom. Plan on waiting for hours and skipping lunch. It’s a god damn nightmare having to appear on a case in that division. The calendar is out of control, illogical, with no respect for anyone else’s schedule.

  14. Seth Sklarey says:

    Surely there must be a few lawyers who arevprepared at 8:30 in the morning. appreciate judges who are on time and have wastes countless hours in courtrooms for no good reason.In criminal court there are alays participants ready to proceed andvothers who are not. Move the calendar expeditiously and everyone should do their job.