Coming next week: The real story on the Alvarez v. Newman election. What you know; what you thought you knew; and what you never imagined!
The title of the post links to the report by the JQC (motto: "proudly doing very little for a long time now." ) to the Florida Supreme Court recommending a public reprimand and a $5,000.00 fine for Judge Colodny for not properly reporting a loan she received from her parents during her campaign to be elected a circuit court judge.
From the report:
Judge Colodny has admitted that her condUct in failing to disclose the loans on her initial Form 6 was incorrect. She accepts full responsibility, and acknowledges that such conduct should not have occurred. Judge Colodny now recognizes that this conduct was incorrect and has undertaken steps to correct the oversight.
In regard to the propriety of receiving a loan in excess of the $500 per person limitation imposed by Section 106.08(1), Florida Statutes, the Investigative Panel concludes that, as in In re Rodriguez, 829 SO.2d 857 (Fla. 2002) and In re Pando, 903 SO.2d 902 (Fla. 2005) receiving a non-commercialloan that was made specifically for the purpose of providing campaign funds in excess of $500 violates the letter and spirit of the law. The Investigative Panel concludes that the lack of proper initial collateralization, the lack of normal periodic repayment schedule, the satisfaction of the mortgage upon a promise of a contingent partial repayment, and its lack of disclosure on the July 2009 Form 6, all clearly indicate that the transaction was a loan made with the purpose of influencing the results of an election.
Rumpole says: blah blah blah.
Let's get a few things straight: as our colleague David Sisselman states, Judge Colodny is a fine judge. Sisselman is right. Colodny hit the bench running. She works hard. Is fair to both sides; knows the law; and has handled in a very competent manner a series of very serious cases in the relatively short time she has been a judge.
Now she has to go to Tallahassee and let the Florida Supreme Court Justices yell at her. That's what a public reprimand is. They call the court into session and yell at her.
Let's put Judge Colodny's case aside for a second.
The punishment for violation of elections laws needs to be more severe. The message this case sends is that you can borrow large sums of money to influence an election and if you win you can expect to keep your job and get yelled at in a court session 99.9999% of the public in Miami will not see nor be aware of.
Our recommendation- and again this has nothing to do with Judge Colodny- is that in the future violations of election laws should have minimum mandatories. Let the judges suffer the same fate as our clients. Let them deal with the fact that mitigating circumstances of the particular facts of any case cannot be considered because the law is the law and the legislature passed a minimum mandatory sentence: 180 day unpaid suspension; public reprimand by the chief Judge of the appellate court of the nearest district in the main courtroom of the building the judge who is being reprimanded serves in; 250 hours community service; $25,000.00 fine.
That would stop these "unintentional" election law violations and would sufficiently punish those who believe that once they get on the bench they are untouchable.
The punishment in Judge Colodny's case appears to fit her malfeasance. But as our legislators and judges well know- punishment is about deterrence and not about the particular mitigating facts of any particular case right?
What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. "Get tough on Judges" That's our new motto.
See You in Court.