Sunday, March 30, 2008



TC PALM Editorial: Judicial Candidates Hide Behind Florida Bar's Restrictive Free-Speech Canon

Florida's sparsely contested judicial contests continue to suffer from a lack of transparency

Florida has 162 Circuit Court judgeships up for grabs this year. So far, just 23 of those races are contested and only five incumbents face a challenge.

Voters might infer that the current crop of sitting judges is doing such a spectacular job that no competition is necessary. That questionable inference is buttressed by the Florida Bar, which effectively muzzles campaign debate via the "Code of Judicial Conduct."

Canon 7 prevents judicial candidates from making "pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office." It also prohibits "statements that commit or appear to commit them with respect to cases, controversies or issues likely to come before the court."

The Code of Conduct may be a well-meaning attempt to keep "politics" out of the judiciary, but elections are, by definition, political. To properly exercise their franchise, voters need transparency not robotic responses and legalistic stonewalls.
Federal courts, up to the U.S. Supreme Court, have repeatedly held that judicial candidates like every other seeker of public office have First Amendment rights to free speech.

In a 1990 case, American Civil Liberties Union v. the Florida Bar, a federal district court threw out provisions of Florida's Code of Judicial Conduct that barred judicial candidates from announcing their views of disputed legal or political issues.
Yet this state's Bar and its disciplinary council continue to chill the environment.

"Florida is defying these decisions," says James Bopp, an Indiana attorney who litigates free-speech issues nationwide. In 2006, he sued over judicial candidates' failure to respond to a questionnaire from the Florida Family Policy Council. The case is pending at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court.

Calling this state's canon "unconstitutional," Bopp says the Bar has "a lot of authority over judges." And, it seems, over voters, as well. With precious little disclosure or debate, the electorate can only go by what the Bar deems appropriate.

Acting as a virtual cartel, the Bar indulges in a bit of politicking itself by issuing recommendations in judicial retention elections. Batting 1.000, it has advised Floridians to retain every judge, and voters have obeyed that counsel every time. The Soviet Union's Politburo had greater electoral diversity. (Rumpole notes that our Comrade Bar President has done a very good job, da?)

Lawyers, including lawyers who want to be judges, maintain that the judiciary is "different" than the executive or legislative branches of government. But to suggest that politics don't enter into the courtroom is simply fatuous. As long as the Florida Constitution provides for election of judges, the electoral process must be open and transparent. Democracy demands it.
"There's a move nationally toward further disclosure of judicial candidates' philosophy," says Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch in Washington, D.C. That trend, backed by federal court decisions, needs to play out in the Sunshine State, which, in other arenas, has some of the strongest open-government laws in the country.

It's time the Bar and its barristers let the sun shine in.

Rumpole says, isn't it a little bit much to ask our dear robed readers to speak intelligently in public on issues of importance? It's not like most of them had any training or experience in public speaking before ascending to the bench.


Anonymous said...

Rump- Tataglia was a pimp, he could have never outfought Santino. What I didn't know until today is that it was Barzini all along.

Anonymous said...

Rump- you have to answer for Santino...ahhh that farce you played with my sister, think that could fool a Corleone?
Barzini's dead. So is Philip Tataglia, Moe Green, Stratchi, Cunio, today I settle all family business. Admit what you did.

Come on, you think I'd make my sister a widow? No Rump,you're out of the family blog business/ That's your punishment. I'm putting you on a plane to Vegas. Only DONT TELL ME YOU'RE INNOCENT. It insults my intelligence. Now, who approached you? Tataglia or Barzini?


Rump - your piece from the TC Palm Editorial appeared on the Broward Blog yesterday -

- you should really be telling the readers to go to today's Broward Blog - as it is one of the funniest, but also, unfortunately, one of the most accurate compilations of the differences between 1958 and 2008.

Cap Out ...

Rumpole said...

Yes- the post today is fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Rimpole- who are your readers? I mean what kind of time do these people have on their hands? Did you read the comment from the previous post about Shumie's "tonsorial splendor" and Luvey's secret bathroom? I mean aren't the topics of discussion here a little pedandtic and ridiculous?

Thanks for listening.

Fake Q.

Batman said...

And when that judicial candidate speaks of his opinions on certain legal or political issues and a case involving one of those issues falls in front of that person as a judge, do we disqualify the judge. The only thing a judicial candidate or judge should say is that he or she will follow the law as it is defined by the appellate courts of this state. Otherwise we now start shopping for the judge who has expressed an opinion with which we agree. Another reason why elections of judges suck.

Anonymous said...

Ok Rumpolium- I have given this a great deal of thought, and a little use of a calculator, and I have come up with a plan:

Release Blecher and his fakes- both of them. Take the hit, but watch what happens with the Cap space:

You can resign Fake Alschuler, Fake Peckins (the real Fake, not that droopy new fake) Fake Aldestein, Fake Matters, Fake Pannunzio, Fake Blake, Fake Alex Michaels (dis is bullsheet) and now watch:

with the extra cap room you can sign or make really good offers to Fake Risivy, Fake Steltzer, Fake Elkind, and this is really great: Fake Don Horn, Fake Howie Pohl, Fake Phil Maniatty, Fake JOA Joe, Fake Former Judge Perez, Fake Areces.

I mean this is a no brainer. Cut the Blechers loose like the Dolphins did with Zack Thomas. They gave great value, but they're past their prime and they cost too much to keep on the blog. The new blood you can bring in is well worth the loss of the trivial observations those guys make.

Please Rump-do the right thing here.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, did you know that this blog is blocked in china? Censored by the Chinese government. It is hard to believe the chinese do not have more important things to do. What do you think of the Chinese government keeping your Blog from the people of china?

Rumpole said...

I wear the Title
with pride.

Anonymous said...

Gore on 60 Minutes Rump.
Gore on 60 Minutes.

Anonymous said...

OMG fake parcells . HOW RUDE! What about me? I got the boobs, the badunkadunk. I can bring it. Long legs. Luscious lips. How about me?

Anonymous said...

I got to agree with fake parcells, cut Blecher and the fakes. But here's what I say you do with the money:
spend it on quality. Fake Bob Scola; Fake Larry Handfield and Fake Clinton Pitts are available off the liberty city blog.And the real prize is Fake Farina.Don't forget about him.

Anonymous said...

Anybody else think it's strange, 5 contested Circuit Court races in the entire stae so far and 3 oif them are in Miami-Dade?

Anonymous said...

Excuse me Rump but do you really want judicial candidates to run on issues? Do we really need these candidates to run on positions of pro-choice or anti-abortion? Or pro-police/law enforcement? Wasn't it bad enough that a former-judicial candidate slimed a judge by stating in his advertisements that the judge was a "former criminal defense attorney" who used to represent "bad" people?

Anonymous said...

There are only baout half of the judges currently seated, at best, that are truly an asset to the bench. Out of those lawyers putting their names in to run, I cannot think of one that is truly qualified. There are no exciting races out there. I will say that I will be crossing my fingers for Hendon and Eig. Their oppoenents have NO business being elected. Can you imagine saying "Yes, your honor" to some guy 5 years out of school with an email address that a 12 year old's MYSPACE account would be proud to have?

Anonymous said...

A bit more research would have been nice.

The Code of Judicial Conduct is an enactment of the Florida Supreme Court, not the Florida Bar. It is enforced through the Judicial Qualifications Committee, not the Florida Bar.

Instead of searching for an Indiana attorney to get the quote that "the Bar has 'a lot of authority over judges'." You should have asked a Florida attorney. They would have told you that it is ludicrous to think that the attorneys control the judges.

I believe journalistic ethics require a retraction.

Anonymous said...

Jack Thompson Toilet Paper Now Available.


Anonymous said...

Jack thompson parody


Anonymous said...

I am not a racist but Rumpole you have to agree these stats are alarming?

Those stats are pretty shocking, esp. considering that blacks are only 13% of the population and the Dept. of Justice uses the same racial categories as the US Census which lumps nearly all Hispanics in with whites. (Incarceration stats separate out white from Hispanic so it is probably a better indicator.)

According to the DOJ National Crime Victimization Survey, between 2001 and 2003 (and taking into account the size of the black population), blacks were 39 times more likely to commit violent crimes against whites than the reverse, and 136 times more likely to commit robbery. There were an average of 15,400 black-on-white rapes every year during this period, 139,000 robberies, 489,000 assaults, and 12,762 sexual assaults. By contrast, there were only 900 "white"-on-black rapes every year, 7,600 robberies, 101,000 assaults, and 3,217 sexual assaults. Of all 768,879 violent interracial crimes involving blacks and whites/hispanics, blacks committed 85 percent and "whites" 15 percent.

According to the DOJ's Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR) include the race of the victim and offender, and make it possible to calculate rates of interracial murder. In 2002, blacks on average were 16 times more likely to murder W&H than the reverse. SHR statistics from 1976 to 2002 tell us blacks murdered 26,727 W&H during those 26 years, and W&H murdered 10,207 blacks, making the black-on-W&H murder rate 17 times that of the W&H-on-black murder rate.

Anonymous said...

Batman, get real. Elections are for voters to find out what they are voting for.

Anonymous said...

That video is unbelievable! At lease we won't have to imagine what the defendants in the lawsuit will look like.

Anonymous said...

To 11:17: I'd rather say "yes, your honor" to a 5-7 year law school grad who wants to work hard and is eager to learn and "do the right thing" than to a any one of our lazy robed ones that only think about long lunches and getting out of having to try a case. I'm sick of lazy Judges! If you don't want to work--get off the bench and make room for those who do!

Anonymous said...

to 1:33 pm:


way to blow your own 5-7 year hown.