WEDNESDAY NOTES

Circuit Criminal Division Meeting Peter Weinstein addressed the North Wing judges today, and from what we’re hearing, he’s rattled.  Having to deal with the most recent barrage of bad publicity, concurrent with a challenge for the chief judge’s docket-free throne, seems to have him a little out of sorts.

Apparently there was talk of possibly involving the local and State Bars to try to curb Howard Finkelstein’s three ringed criticisms of the 17th Circuit’s performance under Weinstein’s leadership, which is awfully confusing,* seeing as how neither body has any authority over the Public Defender.  In fact, the Broward Bar has no authority over anyone, let alone an elected official, who answers only to the Governor.

From the Florida Bar’s website:

The State Commission on Ethics deals with complaints about misconduct by some elected officials. The Florida Bar does not have jurisdiction to discipline lawyers who occupy constitutionally created positions including judges. The (JQC) investigates allegations of misconduct by judges. The conduct of State Attorneys and elected Public Defenders is overseen by the Governor of Florida. 

And from Florida Bar Assistant Director Public Information Zannah Lyle:

In reference to your question about whether The Florida Bar has the authority to investigate elected public officials, the answer is no.

Even if either body could go after Finkelstein for exercising his free speech rights, would it be wise to do so?  Of course not.  Long time readers will remember large ink spills when the local and State Bars went after JAABLOG, only to end up looking silly.  Imagine how much greater the coverage would be if a local celebrity like the Public Defender was the target?  Additionally, there’s no love lost between the general public and the perennially leader-less Broward judges, who have relentlessly disappointed and embarrassed the community as long as anyone can remember.  The bottom line is Weinstein would be foolish to let this go any further than the letters to the editor column of the DBR, and even then, the chief judge shouldn’t copy the entire judiciary when somebody says something nice about him.

We’re told there was also some discussion relating to the Get to Work! AO at today’s gathering, in advance of the statewide Chief Judges meeting which closes out the week.  Believe it or not, judges were told to make themselves something akin to visible, interpreted by more than one observer as a suggestion for judges to work in court instead of their offices after public duties have concluded for the day.  Granted, this audience was full of hard-working circuit criminal judges, but we’re told the impression was given that face time is now an overriding concern, while terms like work harder, and diligence were never used.  Let’s hope the message is much different for judges in other divisions, particularly those with a reputation for being bone idle.  In the meantime, we’ll have to step up our attendance-taking JAABWALKS, just to make sure the Get to Work! AO is being taken seriously …

(* The Bar talk was also confusing due to the fact Weinstein was observed being extra nice to Finkelstein yesterday, the same day he sent the email to judges complaining about the DBR clown comments)

Mike Lynch for Judge! – the younger Lynch makes it official, filing for the retiring Jack Luzzo’s circuit seat.  The paperwork should post Thursday.  Congrats!

Movement update Marc Gold is indeed going to Probate, departing Criminal mid-January.  Cindy Imperato’s promotion to Civil may be on hold though, pending the outcome of her DUI trial in Palm Beach next week.  We’re told some judges are mighty upset that Imperato may end up with a coveted assignment basically due to being arrested, which could cost Weinstein some votes come February, making it a wait and see.  There’s also some talk of Jack Tuter taking over for Streitfeld, but that would still leave a nice Civil slot open.  Ongoing …

Coming SoonWhere are Grossman & Feren, and did they have anything to do with the issuance of the Get to Work! AO?; Somebody should tell Peter Weinstein that Ian Richards didn’t actually retire; A tale of a media savvy PD, a media savvy Blog, and a Luddite CJ; Your tax dollars at work – senior judge payouts!