Posted November 24, 2016 02:35 am - Updated November 24, 2016 03:08 am
Judge faces misconduct over claims in election
TALLAHASSEE | A circuit judge who made claims against his campaign opponent with inaccurate information he downloaded from a background check website has been charged with misconduct, judicial authorities said Wednesday.
The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission notified the state Supreme Court of the five counts of misconduct against 7th Judicial Circuit Judge Scott DuPont in Putnam County.
It said DuPont is also under scrutiny for a statement he made while campaigning that he would find no law unconstitutional despite his oath to uphold the state and federal constitutions. The judge, who handily defeated opponent Malcolm Anthony in August, has 20 days to respond before a court hearing.
DuPont had a tab on his campaign website devoted to information about Anthony.
On it, he posted information he obtained from the “Instant Checkmate” website that offers to provide criminal and court records on individuals. The home page of the website warns that information might not be accurate and that it should be independently verified.
“In spite of those warnings, and instead of taking any steps to verify the scandalous information about your opponent found on the website, you recklessly posted the results of the search under the heading “Do You Trust Your Opponent to be your Circuit Judge?” the commission wrote DuPont in a letter informing him of the charges.
Among the unsubstantiated and unverified entries were claims that Anthony’s wife had been arrested three times, his daughter was arrested 21 times, he had been ticketed for parking in handicapped spaces three times, he used aliases and that he’d legally changed his name to hide his past.
The commission also charged DuPont with making false statements during a televised candidate forum about Anthony’s driving record and a claim that Anthony had cheated during a straw poll conducted by the Volusia County Bar Association.
During the same forum, DuPont said he refuses to declare laws unconstitutional because that would be “legislating from the bench” and that if “they don’t like the decision, they can appeal it.” The commission said that his position is conflict with his oath to uphold the state and federal constitution.
DuPont defeated Anthony with 62 percent of the vote in the August election. The 7th Judicial Circuit serves Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia counties.
DuPont didn’t return a message left at his office. Anthony declined to comment on the case when reached by phone.