December 23, 2008
The Florida Supreme Court has issued a public reprimand of a district court of appeal judge for issuing a concurring opinion that was "motivated by ill will...and personally attack[ed] another judge of the court]." The reprimanded judge had "expressed a strong dislike of [the other judge] that predated the [case at issue]."
The court concluded:
Judge Allen accused a fellow appellate judge of judicial corruption based on unverified facts that came from outside the record and were not part of the...case. Although Judge Allen asserts that he wrote the opinion simply to explain why he voted in favor of an en banc consideration, we find that [he] went beyond this explanation and launched an unnecessary personal attack on Judge Kahn based on his dislike for him...it is obvious from the language of the opinion that his animus towards Judge Kahn played a significant part in his decision to write the opinion.
The court rejected the contention that the doctrine of judicial independence precluded any sanction and ordered that the judge "appear before this Court for the administration of [the sanction]..." (Mike Frisch)
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The St. Petersburg Times has an insightful article about the outcome at this link: http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/article942814.ece
Notably, it mentions that "the high court was especially critical of Allen for using newspaper accounts, though the court then went on to take note of newspaper stories written about Allen's opinion, saying they did not promote public confidence in the judiciary."
Do as I say, not as I do.
Next it points out a striking contrast in what the JQC considers misconduct worth pursuing.
"The Supreme Court opinion made no mention of the uproar surrounding Judge Kahn's alleged affair with a court clerk — a situation that prompted 13 of his fellow judges to force Kahn out of the chief judge's job and file a JQC complaint against him. The commission dismissed that complaint, but the hearing panel that recommended a reprimand for Allen urged JQC investigators to take another look at Kahn's behavior."
Lastly, in an unrelated matter, the same appellate court recently criticized the State Attorney's Office for wasting limited resources on prosecuting a silly case when there are more serious matters deserving the attention of law enforcement.
See the full opinion at this link: http://opinions.1dca.org/written/opinions2008/12-12-08/08-1243.pdf
Hopefully the JQC doesn't decide to pursue those comments as well. After all, questioning the wisdom of local prosecutors and suggesting that they're misusing their authority is a serious matter.
Howard Bashman got it right in his article back in May of 2007 at this link: http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1178874302204
Posted by: David W. | Dec 25, 2008 6:39:54 AM
Wow. It is amazing how far the judiciary will go to punish those that dare criticize the judiciary – even when that criticism comes from the judiciary itself. More evidence that the judiciary is incapable of properly regulating itself.
Posted by: FixedWing | Dec 25, 2008 7:25:29 PM