November 5, 2009
Good Deeds Sanctioned
Another judicial misconduct matter from Florida approves a stipulated public reprimand of a county judge. The allegations involved the judge's relationship with a convicted felon with substance abuse problems. The judge allegedly used her position to procure the felon an apartment lease, loaned him money and bought him a cell phone and a truck. He had caused distrubances at her home and in her chambers. At the home incident, the judge instructed the police not to respond after calling 911. She declined to give a statement to police after he was physically removed from chambers.
The Supreme Court agreed that reprimand was appropriate:
...even in private life, a judge must accept restrictions, even on well-intentionedconduct, that are not imposed on the ordinary citizen, in order to avoid impropriety or the appearance of impropriety...[the judge] conveyed the impression that [the felon] was in a special position to influence her; and by her conduct, she appeared to use her judicial office to advance [his]private interests...
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