Judge reprimanded partly for telling defendant, 'I do hope you do fight for your life ... every day'
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A Florida judge has been reprimanded for her conduct in two cases, including her expressed hope that a defendant she was sentencing would have to fight for his life in prison.
Lemonidis is also required to participate in stress management counseling.
The reprimand stems from Lemonidis’ conduct in two cases.
In one case, Lemonidis expressed hope that a double-murder defendant would die or experience violence in prison. She spoke at a sentencing hearing after jurors declined to recommend the death penalty.
Lemonidis imposed the required life sentences and told the defendant:
“I hope you see the [victims’] faces on every single face you see. You have—the collateral damage that you have caused, sir, is immeasurable and your life is—is not worthy of what you have done to these people. I do hope you do fight for your life every minute of every day. And that would be the only reason that I would hope your life is any longer than six weeks.”
In the other case, Lemonidis displayed an “adversarial tone and demeanor” when speaking to a defendant and defense lawyer, the Florida Supreme Court said, citing the findings of the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Her frustration was apparent in her “facial expressions and a tone of voice,” the court said.
The lawyer had violated courtroom rules by failing to address the defendant by his last name. On at least five occasions, Lemonidis “loudly struck her gavel” while admonishing the lawyer.
She did so in full view of the jury, even though she had been warned early in the trial that that a juror had commented of her treatment of the defense lawyer.
Lemonidis didn’t contest the factual allegations and conceded her behavior in the cases was inappropriate and intemperate.
The Florida Supreme Court said Lemonidis failed to maintain the highest standard of conduct; did not promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary; was not patient dignified and courteous; and failed to perform judicial duties without evidencing bias or prejudice.