Judiciary

Judge Off Case for Columbine Remark


A Florida judge has been removed from a case for comparing a juvenile’s appearance to that of two teens who went on a shooting spree at Columbine High School.

Judge Charles Kaplan of Broward County made the remark when he was overseeing the juvenile delinquency case of a 14-year-old boy who was carrying a razor blade on school property, the Daily Business Review reports.

Kaplan said the boy is “walking around with a razor in his pocket; he’s wearing black; his fingernails are black; he’s got that thing in his ear. … I think if you look around at all the kids that are doing things in school, they’re dressing this way. … I mean, I’m no expert. I just know what I read in the papers, but it’s like Columbine, right? He’s dressed in black. … He’s depressed.”

Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal said Kaplan’s remarks made it reasonable for the boy to fear he would be sentenced more harshly due to his appearance. J.R. v. State, No. D07-1361.

A dissenter said the boy’s dress and conduct were proper considerations and noted the judge said he would be willing to abide by the recommendations of the child’s doctor or a psychiatric evaluation.

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