Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Broward Judge Reprimanded by Florida Supreme Court

This misguided and one-sided judge reminds me of the training the former EPA Chief Judge conducted for EPA lawyers only, telling them how to win cases before EPA's Office of Administrative Law Judges.

State Supreme Court reprimands Broward Judge Contini

John Contini

By Rafael Olmeda
Sun Sentinel

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Broward Circuit Judge John Patrick Contini faced the music Tuesday, enduring a public reprimand from the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court for admitted misconduct that marred his first year on the bench.

“Your actions damaged public confidence in you as a judicial officer and in the court as an instrument of justice,” Chief Justice Jorge Labarga said. “In sum, your misconduct struck at the very roots of an effective judiciary.”

Contini courted controversy in March 2015 with an email he sent to an assistant public defender containing advice on how to word motions to seek more lenient sentences for non-violent offenders. Contini neglected to send the same e-mail to prosecutors until later, leading the Broward State Attorney’s Office to accuse him of playing favorites with the defense.

Prosecutors asked Contini to remove himself from hundreds of cases, and when he declined, the state appealed. The Florida Attorney General’s Office filed a brief siding with prosecutors, and in an August 2015 hearing, Contini said the brief contained lies that perpetrated a fraud on the appeals court.

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That behavior prompted the state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission to intervene, filing formal misconduct charges against Contini.

Contini accepted responsibility, apologized and agreed to the reprimand. He also agreed to hand-deliver a letter of apology to Assistant Attorney General Heidi Bettendorf, the author of the brief he criticized.

Contini ultimately left the criminal division and now presides over family court cases.

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