Legal Ethics

Reprimand and apology sought from judge who emailed public defenders, insulted prosecutor

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Appropriate punishment for a rookie South Florida judge who sent an email giving sentencing tips to public defenders is a public reprimand, a judicial ethics watchdog says.

Plus, the state Judicial Qualifications Commission recommended Thursday that Broward Circuit Judge John Patrick Contini hand-deliver a written apology to an assistant state attorney general whose brief he called a “lie from the pit of hell.” The brief supported an effort by state prosecutors to recuse Contini from hundreds of felony cases, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

The disqualification issue was previously resolved by Contini’s transfer from the criminal court bench to the family court division. However, in its Thursday opinion the JQC called for Contini, who previously apologized for in-court outbursts in an ethics hearing, to do apologize directly to assistant state attorney general Heidi Bettendorf.

It also suggested Contini be appointed a mentor and complete a stress-reduction program n its recommendation to the Florida Supreme Court, which has the final say on appropriate punishment in the legal ethics case, the newspaper reports.

The Daily Business Review (sub. req.) also has a story.

Related coverage: “Prosecutor seeks judge’s recusal in all pending cases, cites ‘legal advice’ email to public defender” “Judge who called state position a ‘lie from the pit of hell’ faces ethics charges”

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