UPDATE: THE BROWARD BLOG IS ALIVE!!!
Rising like Judge Joel Lazarus from the bench after a good snooze during a trial, (sorry Judge, actually its just your name we are using for a pun. You have never slept during one of our trials.) the Broward Blog has emerged alive and apparently well, with an explanation (sort of) as to what happened.
The Blog is back with the type of Broward Blog stuff you would expect: updates on the impending JQC trial of Judge Aleman (wouldn't it just be great if she was delayed getting to court by traffic and the JQC issued a default verdict against her? Readers will remember Aleman first came to our attention when she terminated parental rights when a parent who was using public transportation was late to court. Reversed by the 4th DCA, she did the same thing again in a different case!) and an update on the JQC complaint against Former Dade Judge and now Broward Judge Terry Miller. (Can any reader remember another Judge who served in both counties? We can't.)
Anyway- in the tradition of Halloween, we welcome our brother bloggers to the North back from a grave that couldn't hold them.
Query: Is North Of the Border big enough for two blogs???
OH THIS IS GOOD:
The Daily Business Review and Eddie Dominguez have taken North of the Border Chief Judge to the woodshed for a good old fashion spanking in public. The full article is HERE
If denial were a communicable disease, we’d have to quarantine the Broward County Courthouse. In yet another mystifying episode of judicial indiscretion, Circuit Judge Jeffrey Levenson made a homophobic “joke” about a 16-year-old high school football player — the alleged victim of a 41-year-old man accused of having oral sex with the boy. By reputation, Levenson is supposedly one of the circuit’s more fair and open-minded judges — a frightening thought. Despite this latest gaffe by one of Broward’s newer judges, Chief Judge Victor Tobin is rejecting the notion that judges in his circuit need more diversity and sensitivity training. ...
The denial starts at the top — with Tobin, who yet again has scoffed at the need for additional diversity training for Broward’s judges. Despite calls from bar leaders and others, he seems to be holding his ground while expressing some willingness to reconsider. Former Chief Judge Dale Ross — with his shortcomings — ordered diversity training for the circuit’s 90 judges, albeit under order from Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Fred Lewis. Ross also established a diversity committee to address issues and complaints in the circuit. Tobin abolished the panel when he took over, and he indicates he won’t add to the judges’ training requirements shy of another order from the state’s high court. But Tobin took it one step further when he dismissed the severity of Levenson’s misconduct as little more than an everyday comment. “Every time someone says something doesn’t mean I send 90 people to training,” the chief told the Daily Business Review.
Tobin clearly doesn’t get it, and it would seem sensitivity training at this point needs to start at the top. Chief, Levenson didn’t just say “something.” He picked on a boy who was in his courtroom as the alleged victim of a sex crime. And he did so by poking fun at gays. That is what one might expect from a schoolyard bully rather than a judge presiding over a criminal hearing.
One point that seems lost in the exchange is the boy was belittled by the very institution that was supposed to be dispensing justice. Gays are a common target of “humor,” and perhaps the day will come when everybody stops laughing. But in a gay-intolerant world, one can only wonder what kind of discrimination and ostracism a gay teen might face in school, in the locker room, at home — in life, if this is how the topic is handled in court. Teens are naturally confused and vulnerable as their bodies go through tremendous changes, and they begin to develop their identities. Apply a layer of coping with a different sexual orientation and societal pressures, and you have a recipe for disaster. That might explain the high suicide rates for gay teens in the U.S. A survey from Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of 5,000 gay men and women found 35 percent of gay men and 38 percent of lesbians have considered or attempted suicide. That’s quite astounding when compared to a global suicide rate of 10.7 per 100,000, according to the World Health Organization. That should put Levenson’s comments into a more appropriate perspective than Tobin’s “something.”
In familiar fashion, the new chief judge has angrily dismissed the latest calls for more sensitivity training for Broward judges. He went so far as to try to shift blame away from judges and suggest that, because the first off-color comment was made by an assistant public defender, lawyers — not judges — need the training. “Don’t know why not for lawyers. A lawyer made the first comment,” Tobin said of the Levenson exchange. “Why single out judges?” With that question, we take denial to new heights. The fact that the chief judge would even ask such a ridiculous question really proves the point. He just doesn’t get it. Unlike Tobin, the assistant public defender’s boss took immediate action. PD Howard Finkelstein promptly docked Assistant Public Defense Brian Reidy a week’s vacation and ordered him to write an apology and address his colleagues at a staff meeting. Finkelstein, like many minority bar leaders and others, thinks it’s time for a more serious response to Broward’s conga line of mishaps. But apparently not Tobin. On one level I agree with the chief. Broward judges really don’t need a sensitivity class. They need a program. And Judge Tobin should be the first judge enrolled.
Rumpole says: nothing. Mr. Dominguez said it all, better than we ever could.
OK- one comment to the Chief Judge. Do you not truly understand the difference between a lawyer and a Judge? Do you not really get that a Judge is supposed to be the one individual in the courtroom not only above reproach, but the most experienced, learned, just, fair, and respected individual in the courtroom?
The Judge is the one who stops lawyers from making inappropriate remarks. The Judge should not be the one who piles on and then afterwards points the finger and cries "well he started it!"
Judge Levenson made a mistake and apologized for it. Judge Tobin made a mistake and is too arrogant to admit it. Having had a few cases in our time in his courtroom, we unfortunately cannot say that we are surprised.
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