Broward Judges Courtesy of New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/28/us/in-broward-county-fla-spate-of-judges-in-dui-arrests.html

Here Comes the Judge, in Cuffs

In Broward County, Fla., Spate of Judges in D.U.I. Arrests

By

Judge Lynn D. Rosenthal was arrested on a D.U.I. charge last month in the parking lot of the Broward County, Fla., courthouse.

MIAMI — Lawyers gawked from office windows last month when a BMW S.U.V. swiped a parked police cruiser in the parking lot of a courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, then slammed into a gate over and over again.

A judge was at the wheel.

As lawyers used smartphones to snap pictures of the morning spectacle, Judge Lynn D. Rosenthal became the third Broward County judge in six months to be arrested on charges of driving under the influence. A colleague, Judge Gisele Pollack, had been suspended five days earlier after getting arrested on a D.U.I. charge while already on leave for taking the bench intoxicated — twice.

Even for South Florida, where absurd news events are routine and the sheriff went to prison for corruption, the spate of judicial scandals has raised serious questions about whether the arrests in Broward are a bizarre coincidence or underscore a larger systemic problem. In a county where the judiciary is known for old-school nepotism and cronyism, and judges have been caught smoking marijuana in a park and found drunk and partly naked in a hotel hallway, some lawyers find themselves wondering: At what point do isolated instances of misconduct point to something bigger?

Judge Lynn D. Rosenthal

On Wednesday, WPLG, an ABC affiliate, citing anonymous sources, reported that a Broward family court judge was under federal investigation on suspicion of allowing a now-convicted Ponzi schemer to influence a case.

And this month, a former judge in Broward was disbarred for exchanging 949 phone calls and 471 text messages with the prosecutor during a death penalty case. Yet another judge was ordered removed in April after being accused of cheating clients and a co-counsel in the settlement of a civil suit she handled as a private lawyer a decade ago.

As it turns out, bad behavior by judges has become distressingly common across Florida in recent months. Judge John C. Murphy in Brevard County is on leave after he was caught on video this month threatening a public defender, who later accused the judge of punching him in the head. In the Keys, a judge who was replaced on the bench after dozing off told a local news reporter that Ambien made him hallucinate about “ ‘Fantasia’ and the dancing brooms.” Another stepped down because a blogger exposed a sexually explicit profile the judge had posted on a gay dating site.

But Broward — a heavily Democratic county of 1.8 million people with many judges who are the children, spouses, siblings and fraternity brothers of other judges and some of the region’s most powerful people — seems to be ground zero for allegations of judicial misconduct. The system’s critics say that is because Broward has a highly politicized and clannish culture that is known for protecting its own, which has led some in the judiciary to feel invincible, even as they preside over a county court system that produces the state’s highest exoneration rate.

“I do think it belies an underlying systemic problem in Broward County,” said Howard Finkelstein, Broward’s elected public defender. “I don’t think this stunningly embarrassing fact of having all these charges pending at the same time is indicative of a judiciary with substance abuse problems, but I do think it is a manifestation of the greater problem of a circle-the-wagons mentality.”

 

Records posted online by the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the independent agency that investigates misconduct by state judges in Florida’s 67 counties, show that 17 percent of the 62 formal disciplinary cases filed against sitting judges since 2001 have been in Broward.

Those figures do not include two judges who were recently arrested or those who resigned before a case was made public, such as Judge Lawrence L. Korda, who, in 2007, after presiding over parts of the Anna Nicole Smith case, was caught smoking marijuana in a park. (Not to be confused with Larry S. Seidlin, the Broward judge who sobbed on the bench during a nationally televised ruling on where the reality TV star should be buried.)

Many judges accused of wrongdoing remain on the bench, such as the family court judge who took in a foster child who had appeared in his court, only for the teenager to accuse the judge years later of molesting him.

“Tell me one other courthouse that at any time ever had three judges pending criminal charges, a fourth judge disbarred by the Supreme Court and another judge awaiting removal,” Mr. Finkelstein said. “And that doesn’t include the naked judge!”

In 2001, a Broward County judge was arrested on charges of public intoxication after being found drunk and naked from the waist down at a resort that was hosting a state judicial conference. Mr. Finkelstein has been there: A recovering addict, he, too, was once arrested, after using cocaine and crashing into a police car.

William J. Gelin, a defense lawyer in Broward who runs a blog, Jaablaw.com, that chronicles courthouse antics and posted a photo of Judge Rosenthal’s arrest, noted that the Judicial Qualifications Commission only reveals cases that result in misconduct charges. Most complaints against judges remain secret, which he said adds to the perception that judges feel omnipotent.

“It’s time to shine a light on these individuals and their performance, as the founding fathers intended,” Mr. Gelin said.

Michael L. Schneider, executive director and general counsel of the commission, acknowledged that the recent run of Broward judges being arrested is unusual, but that the agency dealt with cases “one at a time” and not systemically.

“The commission isn’t a punishment group,” he said. “It’s designed to evaluate fitness of somebody to be a judge.”

Broward’s chief judge, Peter M. Weinstein, said the rash of arrests was an “anomaly” that did not reflect the hard work judges do every day at the courthouse.

“It’s a big court system — we have 103 people making decisions every single day,” Judge Weinstein said. “Over all, we have excellent judges, and nobody ever reads or hears anything about them.”

A lawyer for Judge Rosenthal, Brian Y. Silber, declined to comment.

Two of the arrested judges refused a Breathalyzer test, but the test conducted on Judge Rosenthal showed that she had not been drinking. She told the police that she had taken Ambien the night before, but after failing a field sobriety test, she refused to take urine or blood tests, according to the police report. The police, suspecting that she was impaired by drugs, charged her with D.U.I.

Judge Pollack was suspended without pay, despite a request from her lawyer, J. David Bogenschutz, that her alcoholism be considered a disability. She has sought treatment and hopes to return to the bench, Mr. Bogenschutz said.

“Where a judge has the same problem 5,000 other people have, it makes news,” he said. “They are not supposed to have human feelings and human failings.”

Mr. Bogenschutz, who has represented dozens of Florida judges, recently married one of his clients. His wife, Ana Gardiner, is the former Broward judge who was disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court this month for lying about an “emotional relationship” with a prosecutor during a 2007 case. (The defendant was granted a new trial and is now serving a life sentence instead of being on death row, as Ms. Gardiner had ruled.)

“You shouldn’t get special treatment because you’re a judge, and you shouldn’t be treated more harshly if you are a judge,” said Marc Shiner, who represents Judge Cynthia G. Imperato, who was arrested in November for driving under the influence. “They are trying to make an example out of her.”

48 thoughts on “Broward Judges Courtesy of New York Times”

  1. 1
    0

    If they only knew just how bad it really was with judges in Broward. The NY Times article brushes upon the systemic nature of judicial misconduct, but fails in most instances to mention the judges’ names except for the last three boozers.

  2. 0
    0

    If they only knew just how bad it really was with judges in Broward. The NY Times article brushes upon the systemic nature of judicial misconduct, but fails in most instances to mention the judges’ names except for the last three boozers.

  3. 0
    0

    These are Broward judges we’re talking about. LOL. If you’ve ever had any brush with any of them, you’d know what I mean. They are simply stated the worst judges in the state. If any one of them accepted responsibility for their own actions, it would be surprising.

  4. 0
    0

    Broward’s judge pool needs a big dose of disinfectant. Preferably the kind that eliminates slugs. Just how many bad judges does Broward have to have before its conceded that there is something very wrong? Don’t ask CJ Weinstein that question because he’s too busy trying to get re-elected for another do-nothing term as Daddy Doughnut !

  5. 0
    0

    Broward judges have finally received the notoriety they’ve always craved. Just not quite the way they expected it to arrive!

  6. 0
    0

    If Broward judges paid as much attention to what they were supposed to be doing while milking the public trough, maybe they wouldn’t have as much time to booze it up. As it is, we’ve got a real group of self-important small time politicians wandering the halls looking to get attention. Broward judges have always had these problems, they just didn’t come to work under the influence normally ! Lol

  7. 0
    0

    If judges in Broward County can’t or won’t get it together without the use of intoxicants of one kind or another and think they can decide people’s cases while under the influence of the same, they should be booted out of office. It’s obvious that there is absolutely no leadership under the present administration of Chief Judge Weinstein besides repeated attempts to circle the wagons to deal with these systemic problems. He should be removed from office as well. I don’t see this happening without outside (intervention) just like what is needed to cure addiction problems of some of Broward’s judges. It’s a very sad situation. The excuses of Weinstein are equally sad.

  8. 0
    0

    Just how many Broward judges need to be charged with driving under the influence and how many times do these judges come into work under the influence or smash into other motorists sending them to a hospital before Weinstein realizes that “Anomaly” does not apply in theses instance(s) of DUI Broward Judges? That might be a question he should ponder when he’s not coming up with lame excuses for these judges!
    There is definitely something that needs to be done about these people.

  9. 0
    0

    Pretty good article but could have used more investigative reporting when dealing with judges in broward county if the truth be known. There’s a long history. For as long as the judges have been at this sort of thing in broward going back to Judges Charlie Green, Seidlin, Bowman, Ross and cronies, Zack, Spechler, Backman, Grossman, Diaz, Korda, Aleman, O’Connor, et al., it could have made for a much better read !

    Thought it would be a lot better coming from the NY Times. You could write a book on the topic of Bad Judges in Broward. And it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

  10. 0
    0

    Remember, these are broward judges that are being looked at: This kind of behavior has been encouraged for a lack of a better word for a long time. It’s a toxic bunch.

  11. 0
    0

    There’s a longer history of Judicial mischief going back to Stewart LaMotte who loved his use of a state issued credit card; Judge Chris Roberts doing a drunken citizen’s arrest in his vette; Irwin Berkowitz who was settling personal injury cases and accepting fees while garbed in his black robe; J. Cail Lee, who was caught being orally serviced by a local professional in the front seat of his car, not once but twice; another who while going through his divorce was living in his Chambers, sleeping on a sofa there; so none of this is new, it must be the heat and the water

  12. 0
    0

    The poor quality of judges in Broward are known throughout the State of Florida. It’s reputation for Bad Judges continues to be an embarrassment. Practically speaking, the administration of Broward Judges doesn’t exist. They continue to operate with no oversight unless a complaint is filed with the JQC and even then continue to act irresponsibly unless removed from the bench all the while relying on other judges to testify to try to save them. Gardiner is just the most recent example where something was actually done to keep people like her off the bench for good. There are many others when talking about Broward Judges.
    Chief Judge Peter Weinstein does nothing at all but pontificate it’s an anomaly with the latest 3 Broward Judges who have found themselves charged with DUI, one of which was actually hearing cases while whacked out of her mind (Judge Pollack) and when driving home from rehab caused an automobile accident where two fellow drivers were rushed to the hospital, while another Broward Judge (Rosenthal) after repeated accidents thought she was alright to walk inot the courthouse and hear cases! Judge Imperato has been an accident waiting to happen for years and is only lucky she didn’t kill herself or someone else while smashed out of her mind on an interstate highway. Where does it end? Apparently it doesn’t end because these Broward Judges are just the most recent in a long line of Broward Judges who have been accused of everything from smoking pot in a park to molesting a child where Judge Bowman took the child away from the natural mother, adopted him, and then decided he’d have him move in with him and his wife!
    No, I don’t see Broward County recovering from what has become a very long list of errant judges where poor judgment is the norm no matter what Chief Judge Weinstein has to say about it.

  13. 0
    0

    So they’ve finally hit the big time! Someone should send the NYT all the articles on all the judges in Broward so they can get a sense of just how outrageous it really is!

  14. 0
    0

    It was Judge Leroy Moe that took up house keeping in his chambers during or after his divorce. I think the cleaning crew found him. I guess it was cheaper than getting a hotel room.
    Then of course it was Judge Larry Korda that was caught smoking weed under a tree in Hollywood.
    Now was that before or after Larry Seilin was sued for trying to fleece the old woman in his condo while hearing the Ana N. Smith case and his crybaby act and the exrays of Smith were found in his condo dumster? I get them mixed up.
    There have been so many judges in broward caught wanking the donkey it’s hard to remember. And it’s all just coincidence that now 3 get whacked while driving under the influence? I think not. Some group we’ve got here.
    But no biggy, Weinstein is on about the toilets in the new courthouse. Now that’s judicial leadership in true broward fashion!

  15. 0
    0

    Hey,man: Girls in the high school I used to go to would do anything to be called a trend setter. Imperato should be given an award for being the first on the list. She’s the best looking of them too.

  16. 0
    0

    Great memory and history buff. Here are a few more. You forgot Fleet brandishing a gun in court at a defendant, Zeb Wright telling a defendant I’ll climb down off this bench and kick your effin ass, I forgot who it was that shot the clock in his courtroom and Futch, well you could write a book on Futch alone.

    1. 0
      0

      Actually it was Judge Coker with the gun, not Judge Fleet. Coker got in trouble for giving forfeited guns to one of his prosecutors, but as the Frat Stud says, “it’s no big deal” back in those days.

  17. 0
    0

    The fact of the matter, with all the banter, is that all of the judges I’m reading about in Broward from the old days were better judges than the junk we’ve got getting appointed to the bench these days! They knew at least something about the law and had much less attitude than these know nothings who think they can come to work drunk or drugged up and get away with it. Give me the old days anyday as opposed to these idiots. It’s gottn a lot worse with the judges in Broward. I stick to Miami if I can.

  18. 0
    0

    It’s become entirely political with little or no consideration with regard to the quality of the judges being appointed to Broward. The interesting thing is that very little work is actually being done by many judges in Broward anyway and yet Weinstein is asking for more judges from Tallahassee. It’s like once they get appointed, they think they’re retired already and their main squeeze is only soaking the taxpayers for as long as they can. Broward doesn’t need more judges. They just need to be much better administered. I guess that’s asking way too much of Weinstein who’s nothing but a politician with very little skills and no docket himself like the chief judges in other circuits. What does he do all day when he’s not trying to put out fires in the media?

    1. 0
      0

      We are also seeing Administrative Orders signed by Tuter as “Acting Chief Judge” – so it appears that Weinstein is not even doing the Chief Judge job….

  19. 0
    0

    Suffice it to say that Broward County has some of the worst judges ever to sit in the state. These last three DUI Barbies are just the tip of the iceberg. Wait till the info comes out with Broward Judges associated with the Rothstein Scam. It will make this NY Times article look like small stuff. My bet is three or more implicated in some shady stuff going on over at the Rothstein whorehouse or worse.
    Nothing is ever done to rein these jokers in. After they become judges it’s always the same in Broward. You really don’t find as much of this stuff in the other circuits I’ve worked in.

  20. 0
    0

    What about the vacation time? There is no requirement that Broward judges document that they are out of the courthouse. The absence of this means that there is no way to verify how much time a judge takes off. “Good” judges should WANT this so they could avoid being lumped in with the ones who take advantage of the system. Makes you wonder if they are all abusing this.

  21. 0
    0

    And then there was Judge Joyce Julian arrested for running around the hotel halls naked and drunk at a judicial conference.

  22. 0
    0

    This article is obviously biased against female judges. Anyone who has worked at or within the courthouse knows that a lot of the male judges have done and said some heinous things on and off the bench…i.e. Charlie Green calling one of his cases a “No humans involved” case because it was a black on black crime. I’d give more examples but I don’t feel like sitting here for the next two hours typing out all the wrongdoings of the male faction of the 17th Judiciary.

    However, we cannot let a few bad apples ruin the cart. There are some stellar judges on the Broward Bench who do not deserve to be lumped in with the other crackpots mentioned in the article. A prime example of someone who does not deserve to be categorized as a “Bad Judge From Broward” is Ed Merrigan. There is no better judge in Broward in my opinion.

    1. 0
      0

      There are good Broward judges (male & female). Artie Birken comes to mind; the guy has been a workhorse for 30 years. I remember a Calendar Call (literally like 25 years ago) before a Monday holiday & Judge Birken asked: “Anyone want to work Monday?” Not a peep. Someone quipped: “Sounds like a sane group to me Judge”.

      1. 0
        0

        regarding judge birken; I remember when he took over for judge tedder about 25 years ago and he was setting hearings at lunch and on saturdays! Another judge that I was always impressed with was judge ron rothschild; we has an 8am emergency hearing; all the attys were present at around 740am; the judge was there ahead of us and started at 745, very impressive. Plenty of excellent judges but also plenty of really really poor judges also

  23. 0
    0

    Agree and concur, Judge Birken is an excellent Judge and another Judge that comes to mind is Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren. She does a great job– does not take advantage of hours or holding on to cases, etc. She treats everyone with respect and does an excellent job with her mental health and her criminal court dockets. Additionally, she is very private with her personal social life and appears to care about her robe and the impression she may give off while out socializing. It is my belief from what I have seen that she is aware that the robe means she is held to a higher standard and while I am sure she may enjoy a cocktail or so she takes pride in never getting sloppy drunk or acting ridiculous on or off the bench. Classy lady, top notch Judge, so don’t let a few speak for all the Judges that isn’t really fair.

  24. 0
    0

    I agree– recently appeared in Judge Wren’s court. She has a most unique style, but above all –actually declares and acts on her integrity and her duty as a judge–OMG–and she makes no bones about others in her court system breaking down their responsibilities and holding them to account, publically and on the record.

  25. 0
    0

    Howard should post a permenant camera from his office on the judicial parking lot and settle it as to who is coming in and at what time.

  26. 0
    0

    The NY times needs to find out what a miniscule tip of the Broward fraudberg these are.

  27. 0
    0

    The NY Times needs to investigate and find out how miniscule a tip the Broward fraudberg is and even how many legitimate JQC complaints were summarily fraudulently dismissed–even against the same whorific judges.

    1. 0
      0

      Does Broward have any good judges. No that would be an oxymoron. In practice and personal experience they are all a bunch of crooked insane stupid egomaniacs. Why doesn’t anyone look at Renee the defender of woman and children. What a crock.

      1. 0
        0

        I suggest you take a look at the Honorable and Colonel Ed Merrigan before you put all Broward Judges into your “Corrupt Judges Bin”. It’s not fair and unless you have appeared in front of each and every Judge in Broward, you are simply not qualified to make such a blanket and biased statement.

        Judge Merrigan has got prosecutorial and defense experience in JAG. He is still an active duty Colonel with aspirations to become a General. Hs was a stellar attorney in private practice doing civil litigation and is a well-liked, admired, incredibly smart and humble. He’s a combat war veteran and is currently running three separate divisions.

        Judge Merrigan us certainly not the only exception to your blanket statement. There are more GOOD Judges in Broward than there are bad.

        See? This is what I dislike about the article. I know it’s about bad Broward Judges, but they could have at least thrown a bone to those judges who bust their asses on a daily basis.

        1. 0
          0

          Like any liar, one lie destroys the credibility or any other statement; so with Canon 1–any corruption of one judge undermines the integrity of the Judiciary. Broward had that and more actually confirmed JQC prosecutions and does not include all the verified and verifiable ones dismissed without investigation that has severely compromised and destroyed the integrity of the Judiciary so routinely that no person should ever trust any judge in Broward ever again. Canon 3D mandated any judge receiving information or having actual personal knowledge of any other judge OR any member of the Florida bar who violates their “integrity” rules SHALL take appropriate action. The routine “appropriate action” taken by Broward judges is to do nothing and on the JQC, especially Bachman there, this failure further undermined the integrity of the judiciary precisely because of this. And all you lawyers did the same–you gripe, complain condemn finger-point and generally blow hot assgas out yo’ mouts, but do NOT act. You are the major part of this problem instead of a solution and you still allow it to be taken out on your clients with no regret after taking their money to “zealously” defend them. what or why should you care–you get the best of both worlds–$ and corruption without responsibility or liability. You are the racketeers.

    2. 0
      0

      I suggest you take a look at the Honorable and Colonel Ed Merrigan before you put all Broward Judges into your “Corrupt Judges Bin”. It’s not fair and unless you have appeared in front of each and every Judge in Broward, you are simply not qualified to make such a blanket and biased statement.

      Judge Merrigan has got prosecutorial and defense experience in JAG. He is still an active duty Colonel with aspirations to become a General. Hs was a stellar attorney in private practice doing civil litigation and is a well-liked, admired, incredibly smart and humble. He’s a combat war veteran and is currently running three separate divisions.

      Judge Merrigan us certainly not the only exception to your blanket statement. There are more GOOD Judges in Broward than there are bad.

      See? This is what I dislike about the article. I know it’s about bad Broward Judges, but they could have at least thrown a bone to those judges who bust their asses on a daily basis. And made it less biased for women….

  28. 0
    0

    there are plenty of good judges; judge gates, judge carlos rodriguez, judge jane fishman, just pratt, and many many more . There are also plenty of bad ones; any thoughts on judge rosenthal doing foreclosure cases? has she ruled against a bank even one time in her 4or 5 weeks in that division?

  29. 0
    0

    The New York Times article paints Broward County and its judges as rogue warriors. Certainly Scott Rothstein sought influence that included judges. Does anyone know why Rothstein gave the most money to Judge Renee Goldenberg; when she is a a Family Court Judge? Could it be that she is the chair of the Family Division?

  30. 0
    0

    A couple have written on just how great they think LernerWren is. However, I saw a quote from a transcript where she said “being in jail by mistake is not an emergency”

    That should recuse any judge from sitting on criminal cases, but, as it always is with Lerner Wren, she crafts her decisions based on WHO the attorney is. Not fair. Very biased.

  31. 0
    0

    Judge Arlene Simon Backman is in my opinion one of Broward’s worst judges. She arrived late at my hearing (Almost 1 hour) no apologies for making us wait. Totally confused about the facts and
    statutes. Queen Bee I call her. Had another female sitting next to her and went on a conversation she was having while the attorney was talking. Well, at the end she said something that made no sense whatsoever to the matter at hand. My jaw just dropped.
    She went on about her busineess lilke nothing had happened.
    I think she should be investigated and treated for whatever it is that is wrong with her.

    1. 0
      0

      I agree 100%, Judge Simon Backman is a JAP and a joke. I really don’t understand how in the world she ever became a Judge and why the idiotic broward county voters continue to reelect her. I feel sorry for the people who have to appear before her, specially if you don’t have a Jewish name.

      We get what we deserve and we have this stupid judge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.