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May 27, 2022

Florida Judge Fined & Suspended for Representing Son

On May 19, the Florida Supreme Court approved the findings of the Hearing Panel of the Judicial Qualifications Commission (Hearing Panel) that a judge violated judicial ethics rules in connection with issues surrounding representation of her adult son. The Court imposed harsher discipline than the Hearing Panel had recommended. According to the Court’s Opinion, the judge violated Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct when, among other things, she represented her son who allegedly shot a female acquaintance multiple times through a closed door. At the time, the judge had been assigned to preside over felony criminal cases in the same judicial circuit as the state attorney who was bringing charges against her son. The judge also allegedly: (1) presided over cases where her son’s attorney (who was retained to represent him on other issues) appeared and failed to recuse herself, and (2) failed to properly supervise her judicial assistant. The Supreme Court accepted the Hearing Panel’s recommendation of a 60-day suspension without pay, public reprimand and employee management program, but believed additional discipline was warranted. Accordingly, the judge was also fined $30,000.

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