The Florida Supreme Court was recently tasked with reviewing a case about a Broward County judge who was arrested on suspicion of DUI. This case is an example of what can happen when judges go astray of the law, and what checks exist in Florida to ensure that judges are held to a higher standard.
Unfortunately, cases like these appear from time to time. As a society, we employ judges to dole out justice while upholding high standards. Judges play an important role in the justice system, and without them the system would most likely collapse on itself. Perhaps that is why we hold them to such a high standard.
What Happened in This Case
This case began in 2013 when the judge was arrested on suspicion of DUI in Boca Raton. At the time, she refused to take a blood or breath test to find out whether she was inebriated. Soon after the arrest took place, the Florida Judicial Qualifications Committee opened a file and case against the judge to see whether her conduct should result in some sort of penalty.
After reviewing her case and giving the judge a chance to defend herself, the JQC recommended a meager punishment from the judge. All JQC cases begin with an investigation into alleged misconduct, from there a second part of the JQC evaluates the investigation and makes recommendations to the Florida Supreme Court on punishments or reprimands.
In this case,the JQC asked the Florida Supreme Court to issue a $5,000 fine and suspend the judge for 20 days without pay. But the Supreme Court felt that recommended punishment was too light due to what the judge was accused of doing. So the JQC returned a renewed recommendation of a $20,000 fine, three months suspension without pay, and an alcohol evaluation. After the latest recommendation, the High Court now demands that the judge justify to them why she should keep her position as a judge, and they gave her a February deadline to do it.
On the one hand, it is clear why the Florida Supreme Court is taking this position. After all, this judge will likely be asked to hand down judgments in future DUI cases if she remains a judge. But at the same time, we have to ask ourselves whether it is possible to be too hard on the judge and not allow her to make up for what she is alleged to have done.
Drunk Driving Accidents in Panama City
After reading this story, one fact is clear. The danger of drunk drivers is real in Florida. It does not matter what position a person holds, one bad decision to drive drunk can alter the future in countless ways. This is particularly true when drunk drivers run into and injure innocent victims because of the negligent choice to drink and drive. When this happens, the negligent, drunk driver should be made to pay the damage they inflict. At The Pittman Firm, we represent victims of drunk driving accidents in the Panama City area. If you have been injured in an accident that involved alcohol, contact us. We will go over your situation with you and provide you with the legal counsel your case deserves.
See related blog posts: Attorney Wrongly Asked to Take Breathalyzer in Court; Florida Judge in Trouble Over Comments.