The court has the final say

first_imgThe court has the final say September 15, 2000 Regular News The court has the final say Since the dawn of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, Florida Supreme Court justices, whose duty it is to have the final say after giving “great weight” to the group’s recommendations, have wrestled with how to carry out discipline of judges consistently and fairly. In the very first case to come before the JQC in 1970, that was apparent. A judge had a falling out with his colleagues about how to run the courts in their circuit, and he took his concerns to the local newspaper. Fellow judges had complained he created chaos in the system and publicly embarrassed them. The JQC wanted the judge in question to submit to a psychological exam, but he refused. The Supreme Court ordered that the recommendation of the JQC be followed: a public reprimand for “failing to follow recognized methods of proposing changes in judicial procedure.” But Justice Richard Ervin disagreed, saying the judge had the free speech right to publicly explain his side of the dispute. “Here, the commission in its very first inquiry essayed to venture into a very nebulous and debatable situation involving the psychological motivation of a judge, and in the process equated his right to speak out on the subject of judicial reform as the prime example of his unbecoming conduct and his bad behavior,” Justice Ervin wrote in his dissent. “so venturing, we have at our threshold for the first review of findings of the commission, issues that set at stake the most fundamental concepts of a free democratic society.” There was no showing that the judge was “corrupt, senile or insane,” but only that he “rocked the boat and annoyed his fellow judges,” Justice Ervin wrote. In a 1996 case, a judge falsified records by backdating pleas in DUI cases. It had the dual effect of not showing up on the clerk’s record as part of the judge’s pending caseload, but also allowed drivers to stay behind the wheel when their licenses were supposed to have been revoked for six months. The JQC and the majority of justices agreed the judge should be removed from office because “knowing and repeated acts of falsifying public records strike at the very heart of judicial integrity.” But Justice Leander Shaw dissented, and Justice Harry Lee Anstead concurred: “Her openness convinces me that she was oblivious to the seriousness of her impropriety.. . . It seems inequitable to remove [this judge] when [another judge] received a public reprimand for lying in open court, falsifying records and convicting DUI defendants without a plea or trial in cases where the defendants failed to appear.” To Justices Shaw and Anstead, the middle ground punishment of six months suspension — a new option that became available in 1996 — seemed the fair way to go. In a 1975 dissent that agreed with the JQC to remove a Supreme Court justice from office [after the court majority ordered a reprimand], retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Alto Adams wove in a little history lesson: “We inherited the impeachment law from the Mother Country. It has proven to be most unworkable and unsatisfactory. “On November 8, 1966, Floridians approved a revision of the Constitution setting up the JQC.. . . It is rather significant to point out that the commission is composed of a rather select group of judges and laymen. Therefore, their recommendation comes to us with perhaps a greater dignity than a verdict of a jury or the findings of a grand jury. We should certainly be very reluctant to repudiate their findings of fact.” And former Justice Adams stressed: “The client can choose his lawyer, but his judge is chosen for him. Therefore, it would seem that a much higher standard would be required of judges than lawyers.” In a 1993 dissent arguing that a reprimand was more fair than the removal from office that was ultimately carried out, Justice Parker Lee McDonald wrote the blueprint for an honorable judiciary: “I would remind [the judge] that judges are servants of the people in a unique way. We have huge power over the property and lives of many people. This power must be responsibly and reflectively utilized. All persons must be treated equally and impartially. A judge must not react in anger to any situation. “At all times, we must serve the public interest by promoting justice and avoiding any impropriety or appearance thereof. Courtesy to all is an essential trait of a respected judge. “We must not be swayed by partisan demands, public clamor or considerations of personal popularity, nor apprehension of unjust criticism. “A judge should be careful to assure that in every particular the judge’s conduct should be above reproach. He should not use his office for political power or retribution against his detractors.”last_img read more


first_imgTHIS is the latest satellite image of the super storm heading for Donegal in what is already being dubbed ‘Black Wednesday’.An Orange weather alert is already in place for the county, but after a horrible day so far in the county, the worst is yet to come overnight tonight and right through into the early hours of Thursday.Wind gusts of up to 130km/hr are predicted – along with sea swells of up to 30 metres. The storm can be seen in the north Atlantic, developing into a twisting low and will be brought here by bitter northerly winds. HERE SHE BLOWS – SATELLITE IMAGE OF BLACK WEDNESDAY STORM HEADING FOR DONEGAL was last modified: December 9th, 2014 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:black wednesdaydonegal weatherstormlast_img read more