That knucklehead of a judge, Eileen O'Connor, is back in the news.
When Broward Circuit Judge Eileen O'Connor sentenced a prospective juror to four months in jail last year for failing to reveal he had been arrested, her decision provoked allegations of racism and double standards in the judicial system.Harsh? As was well documented at the time, O'Connor's sentence for Forbes was unprecedented. She was within the law, but this judge is a menace.
But on Wednesday, the 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach backed the judge and upheld Stacey Forbes' conviction for criminal contempt of court.
The appellate judges said that because the jail sentence was within the legal limits, they could not overturn it. However, they said it was "harsh under the circumstances" and, listing cases where misbehaving jurors got lesser punishments, they suggested the judge could reduce the sentence.
Forbes' attorney, Bill Gelin, said he will ask for a reduction in Forbes' sentence. But the outcome of any such request will just be a point of principle: on Monday, another circuit judge, Michael Kaplan, sentenced Forbes to four years in prison after he pleaded guilty to burglary and attempted burglary.
Gelin said he was disappointed he lost the appeal but was pleased the court agreed that the sentence was harsh.
In March 2005, Forbes was found guilty of contempt for failing to disclose during jury selection that he had prior arrests. One arrest happened just two weeks before he reported for jury duty. He served 30 days of the jail term before O'Connor released him on bond in April 2005 while he appealed.
Forbes told the judge he wasn't trying to hide his background, but he had problems reading a jury questionnaire. He said he was confused and thought he was being asked if he had been convicted of a crime. At that time, Forbes had been arrested twice but prosecutors dropped both cases.
In its decision, the appellate court referred to prior rulings in a case where a defendant did not realize the effect his behavior could have on the justice system, pointing out the need to balance "the need to preserve the integrity of the court system and the ideal of tempering justice with mercy when an offense is unwittingly committed."
Gelin said he plans to ask O'Connor to step down from handling the case because of a potential conflict of interest. In the controversy that followed her actions in the Forbes' case, the Fort Lauderdale branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People filed a complaint against her with the state's watchdog agency for judges, the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Marsha Ellison, local NAACP president, said her organization asked the commission to investigate allegations by unnamed sources published in South Florida newspapers that O'Connor did not disclose two employee discrimination complaints when she applied to become a judge in 2003. Several sources said the complaints were brought by attorneys -- one Jewish and one black -- when O'Connor was a supervisor in the civil division of the U.S. Attorney's Fort Lauderdale office.
The commission will not confirm or deny it is investigating a complaint until it decides whether to take formal disciplinary proceedings.
O'Connor is also a liar as is shown here. She has no business being on the bench but if the Judicial Qualifications Committee or Florida State Supreme Court do anything, I'll be shocked. Our judicial system gives their own a slap on the wrist, and innocent people get jailed for being sent to the wrong courtroom. Justice in Florida is often one big clusterfuck.
Open Post- Bright & Early, Basil's Blog,