It’s been forty-five days since Patti Henning, a judge for roughly forty years, was supposed to start her new assignment in the criminal division on Tuesday, January 17th of this year.

She has yet to appear after being moved from the civil division, with other judges covering her dockets since that time.

It’s gotten so bad a senior judge has also been imported for weeks at a time, at great cost to the taxpaying public.

None of the pinch-hitting judges seem to know when or if Henning is coming back, or the exact reason for her absence, based on open court statements offered either sua sponte, or in response to curious and bemused lawyers’ questions. Judicial frustration is palpable, as people have much better things to do than cover dockets that aren’t theirs.

Since the 17th Circuit’s damaging proclivity for a serious lack of transparency in matters of great public importance seems to be at play yet again, the following emails were sent earlier today:

To Court Administrator Joe D’Amico at 8:27 AM:

(I)s (Henning) on medical leave?  A leave of absence?  When is she scheduled to return?

To Joe D’Amico at 1:04 PM:

I haven’t heard back from you, or (Henning). I emailed her too.

Is this a medical issue?

To Patti Henning and her JA at 12:19 PM:

I understand you are on medical leave, and am writing today to ask when you may be returning.

I have emailed Court Administration with no response yet, so I figured I would ask you directly, particularly since other judges in the criminal division don’t seem to know either

Unfortunately, none of the emails have been returned up to this point in time, leaving nothing but growing concern for Patti’s health, and the attendant coverage costs of backed up case counts and taxpayer dollars being passed on to the residents of Broward County.

Let’s hope Patti is ok and will be back at work soon. But in the meantime, Jack Tuter needs to publicly address and remedy what is already an unworkable situation if Henning will be out much longer …