Broward County judges
The type of charges a person is facing will determine which court the person will appear in, and which judge or judges may handle their cases. In the past, county judges have come to media attention for some of the unfortunate incidents that have happened in the courtroom. These incidents have brought to light some issues that face judges in the court rooms and show that their personal lives can also interfere with the judicial system.
What happened with these judges, and how are the courts arranged in Broward County? First let's take a look at the court system.
Broward County has a two-tiered judicial system. Each tier has jurisdictions over certain legal matters, and both are managed by the Chief Judge
- The Circuit Court is the one that handles general jurisdictions, and handles all legal matters where the dispute is in excess of $15,000. It also handles civil disputes, criminal, juvenile, family matters, along with domestic abuse and probate issues. Judges presiding over Circuit Court are elected to six year terms by voters in elections against others who qualify as judicial candidates.
- County Court's jurisdiction is more limited by its nature. It hears many of the cases that do not fall into the realm of the circuit court. Some of the matters heard by the County Court are small claims, landlord/tenant disputes, traffic matters, and other misdemeanor criminal cases. In general, the matters that are heard by County Court do not exceed $15,000.
The Chief Judge is a practicing member of the court, but typically takes on a lighter case load than other judges in order to be able to execute their administrative duties.
In the past, county judges have come under fire for some of the incidents that have happened both in and out of the court room. This media attention has focused on the personal problems faced by judges, not just in county, but likely in many other parts of Florida, the United States and the rest of the world.
In March of 2014, Judge Gisele Pollack was removed from her courtroom after she was heard slurring her speech, and behaving erratically. Pollack presided over a court that heard cases related to drugs, and had previously been open about her own addiction to alcohol and drugs.
Other judges had been arrested or investigated for other reasons, including a DUI, smoking marijuana in a park, and being found drunk and partly naked in a hotel hallway. Another judge was disbarred because of the exchange of over 900 phone calls and over 400 text messages with a lawyer, while they were on the same death penalty case.
Many people are wondering if county's judicial system is corrupt. Some feel that, due to connections that judges have with powerful individuals in the County, they feel they are exempt from the consequences of their actions.
The incidents highlight the fact that personal problems also affect judges and can, in turn, affect the legal system.