The Knucklehead of the Day award
Today's winner is Broward County Circuit Judge Cheryl Alemán. She gets the award for the following.
The state judicial watchdog filed formal charges against Broward Circuit Judge Cheryl Alemán on Tuesday, accusing her of "a pattern of arrogant, discourteous, and impatient conduct."Judge Alemán is clearly unsuited for the bench. The handling of the Adam Katz matter makes her more than unsuited, she is a menace to the people of Broward County she has sworn to serve and protect.
Using unusually strong language, the state Judicial Qualifications Commission charged her with violating several canons or rules, and acting in a manner that "erodes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary." If the allegations are proven, Alemán faces anything from a public reprimand to removal from the bench.
Alemán, 48, has been involved in numerous controversies in her five years on the Broward criminal court bench.
But the charges filed Tuesday deal with matters of judicial temperament and procedure. They cover alleged misconduct and deal with incidents from 2003 to 2006.
Chronologically, the first allegation concerns her July 2003 handling of the case of the late Jean Felix, a jail inmate who was dying of AIDS. Alemán refused to release Felix despite a joint request from the prosecutor and public defender, and testimony from a healthcare manager at the jail that Felix's medical condition made him more vulnerable to infection and he was at greater risk of dying in jail.
Alemán is accused of making misleading statements in a court order the commission said she appeared to have written in response to a South Florida Sun-Sentinel article about the Felix case. The commission said Alemán defended her ruling by claiming Felix's attorney presented no medical testimony about Felix's condition. The order "conspicuously omits" that the prosecution and defense had stipulated he was dying, ruling out the need for any such testimony, according to the charging document. Ross, known for being a strict judge, later released Felix while Alemán was on vacation. Alemán refused to disqualify herself from handling two cases filed in 2004 involving defense attorney Michael Gottlieb, after he filed court papers detailing their acrimonious history. In the 1990s, then-statewide prosecutor Alemán had filed criminal contempt sanctions against Gottlieb in a case he was defending.
JQC charges also were filed on several issues regarding Alemán's treatment of two public defenders, Sandra Perlman and Bruce Raticoff, in a January 2006 murder trial. Perlman was campaign treasurer for Alemán's political opponent in the 2004 primary and asked the judge to step down from the case. Alemán rejected her requests, threatened to hold the public defenders in contempt and gave them 15-minute deadlines to file court documents, which the JQC said was unreasonable. Alemán also refused to let Perlman delay proceedings for 15 minutes in a routine request so she could handle a previously scheduled plea agreement in another courtroom. Alemán permitted a prosecutor to do the same thing during the case.
And finally, the judge is accused of scheduling a contempt hearing for defense attorney Adam Katz in February 2006, even though she knew he was out of state. She then found him in contempt and sentenced him to 60 days in jail. He spent four days in jail and is still appealing the case and sentence.
The JQC should recommend the removal of Judge Alemán. As I've chronicled before at TFM, that is far from a certain thing in Florida. Our judicial system does a horrific job of policing itself. I'll do the next best thing in the meantime, Broward County Circuit Judge Cheryl Alemán you are today's Knucklehead of the Day.
Linked to-Adam's Blog, Basil's Blog, Bright & Early, Blue Star, Cao's Blog, Jo's Cafe, Outside the Beltway, Pursuing Holiness, Random Yak,