Anyone looking to Jack Tuter as a beacon of change for the ailing Broward judiciary had better look elsewhere. Putting it another way, it’s best not to forget he cut his chief judge chops as an administrator under Vic Tobin and Peter Weinstein. The never-ending, in a class by themselves embarrassments that have been a fixture of the 17th Circuit for as long as anyone cares to remember will inevitably continue to recur, if what’s known of today’s roughly twenty-minute judicial summit is any indication.
First, what wasn’t discussed, according to multiple sources:
- Ms. Sandra Twiggs. There wasn’t even a moment of silence.
- A judicial rotation plan to conform with the Rules of Judicial Administration,* and to stem burn-out.
- Professionalism panels for judges to cut down on JQC complaints, contested elections, and the far too common meltdowns and ethical lapses that distinguish the Broward judiciary in terms of scope and volume from judicial circuits across Florida and the nation.
- Recent incidents involving Bobby Diaz and Barbara McCarthy.
- Tuter’s perceived preference of using transfer to the Criminal Division as “punishment detail“.
- Tuter’s perceived role in sparking Ehrlich’s resignation and corresponding inexcusable and cruel meltdown at First Appearances by notifying her of his intention to transfer her to the Criminal Division.
Next, what was discussed, according to multiple sources:
- High fives all around for the great job the majority of hard-working judges are doing, and a message of approval from the Chief Justice to same.
- An implied warning for judicial “leakers” to a blog that only wants to make them look bad, and a confirmation that the Chief Justice cancelled his trip to avoid a circus after the announcement appeared on the blog.
- The overall strong condition of the circuit, despite a handful of blog malcontents.
- Unspecified plans to improve things in the future and avoid pitfalls provided by a few bad apples.
- A focus on the large number of new young, talented judges who will be taking the circuit forward.
- The great strides in reducing the jail population, and in electronic scheduling for both civil and criminal.
- Tuter’s close working relationship with Howard Finkelstein.
Multiple sources agree this meeting was a morale booster, and not a forum to point fingers. Whether or not Tuter was simply playing to his base and not showing his cards shall be seen, but for now it seems his strongest public admonition for greater judicial accountability remains the April 23rd letter that’s posted below.
We’ve copied this entire post and emailed it to Tuter for review, in case we’ve gotten anything wrong or missed any important discussion points. If he writes back, we’ll update …
* The Rules of Judicial Administration encourage circuits to assign judges to different divisions over time in order to allow them to become generally familiar with all types of cases and fully develop their capabilities. (referencing Rule 2.215(b)(3), Florida Rules of Judicial Administration)