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Wednesday, January 14, 2015
CAUSE IT'S ALL ABOUT THAT BASS, NO TREBLE .....
THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
BREAKING NEWS on JUDGE DAVID YOUNG (read below) .....
A SCENE FROM A COURTROOM INSIDE THE MJB, CIRCA 1990*** ......
JUDGE LNU: Clerk, call the next case.
CLERK: State v. James Williams
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Good morning, your honor. The Captain, appearing on behalf of Mr. Williams.
JUDGE: Mr. Captain, good to see you. Can you please approach the bench.
CAPTAIN: Of course, your honor.
JUDGE: Mr. Captain, you know I am running for re-election, don't you?
CAPTAIN: Yes, your honor.
JUDGE: Please take this envelope, (slipping the Captain an envelope); I noticed that you had not given to my campaign yet.
CAPTAIN: No problem, your honor. Of course I will be donating to your re-election campaign.
***This actually happened to me while appearing in Circuit Criminal many years ago. The Judge, who has since passed away, was a well liked judge and was thought by most, on both sides of the isle, to be a very fair judge. But, to be clear, what s/he did was not legal under any of the judicial campaign laws at the time.
***And we all know that, when running for Judge, that it's all about that bass ($$$), and lots of it, that makes a campaign go; a treble (thin) bank account is a quick ticket back into private practice.
On January 20, 2015, SCOTUS will hear the case of LANELL WILLIAMS-YULEE, PETITIONER, V. THE FLORIDA BAR, RESPONDENT. The Daily Business Review covers the story here.
The case comes directly from the Florida Supreme Court and you can read that court's opinion here.
The Florida Supreme Court's opinion starts out this way:
"We have for review a referee’s report recommending that the Respondent, Lanell Williams-Yulee, be found guilty of professional misconduct. The referee recommended that the Respondent receive a public reprimand as a sanction. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 15, Fla. Const.
For the reasons explained below, we approve the referee’s findings of fact and recommendation that the Respondent be found guilty of violating Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 4-8.2(b) (Judicial and Legal Officials, Candidates for Judicial Office; Code of Judicial Conduct Applies) for personally soliciting campaign contributions in violation of Canon 7C(1) of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct. We therefore reject the Respondent’s constitutional challenge to the ban imposed by Canon 7C(1) on a judicial candidate’s personal solicitation of campaign contributions, and hold that the Canon is constitutional because it promotes the State’s compelling interests in preserving the integrity of the judiciary and maintaining the public’s confidence in an impartial judiciary, and that it is narrowly tailored to effectuate those interests.
We approve the referee’s recommended sanction of a public reprimand."
In September of 2009, attorney Lanell Williams-Yulee decided she would become a candidate for County Court Judge in Tampa. One of her first acts as a candidate was to sign a campaign fundraising letter where she personally solicited campaign contributions.
Judge Dick Greco, Jr was elected to the County Court bench in 1990 and reelected in 1996, He left the bench and returned to private practice in 2002. In 2009, Governor Charlie Crist appointed Greco to an open seat on the County Court bench. He ran for "reelection" in 2010. Ms. Williams-Yulee filed to challenge incumbent Judge Greco. In the primary, Judge Greco garnered 80% of the vote, defeating Williams-Yulee.
The Florida Bar investigated the charges against Williams-Yulee, which included misconduct and minor misconduct, violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and violations of supervisory responsibilities.
The relevant part of the referee's findings, as they relate to the case before SCOTUS, is the finding of guilt by Williams-Yulee of directly soliciting for campaign contributions.
The Bar has retained heavy hitter Greenberg Traurig partner Barry Richard (he of Bush v Gore) to represent the interests of The Respondent.
The Petitioner, Williams-Yulee, is challenging on First Amendment grounds, Canon 7C(1) of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct, which bars judicial candidates from soliciting campaign contributions.
Amicus briefs were filed this week by some of the most respected attorneys in the State, on behalf of the Bar, including Major B. Harding, Harry Lee Anstead and Stephen Grimes, all former chief justices of the Florida Supreme Court; along with four others who are past presidents of the Florida Bar.
The Bar's amicus supporters believe that Canon 7C(1) "strikes a proper balance between a judicial candidate's right to free speech and the right of future litigants to due process, while placing a minimal burden on the former." (At least 33 other states have a judicial Canon similar to Florida's).
Let's face it, even though judges are not supposed to ask us directly for money, who's kidding who here. Every candidate, and Judge, running for reelection, knows who gave to their campaign and who gave to their opponent. It's online, it's public record. So, what's the big deal if we eliminate the middle man and just let the candidate/judge do the asking?
What do you think?
BREAKING NEWS ........
JUDGE DAVID YOUNG, is running for Judge, again:
Judge David Young, who served on the County and Circuit Court bench from 1993-2007, and then became a TV Judge (2007-2009), has most recently been mediating and serving our community on several boards. He announced today that he has entered the race for Circuit Court Judge in Group 39. That seat is currently held by Judge Rodriguez Chomat. Chomat is retiring (aged out) and therefore cannot seek reelection. Qualifying for the seat ends on May 6th of 2016 and the election will take place on August 30th.
CAPTAIN OUT .......