The Knucklehead of the Day award
Today's winner is Broward Circuit Judge Charles Kaplan. He gets the award for the following.
A Broward assistant public defender is raising questions about an off-the-record exchange between a judge and a parent in a juvenile case, according to a memo obtained by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.Even if he had no intent, the Judge should have known better. It makes a judge look like he is willing to sell his services.
During a June 12 courtroom recess and before imposing a sentence upon a teenage boy, Broward Circuit Judge Charles Kaplan gave his business card to the teen's father after he told the judge he could get free tickets to social soirees, according to Assistant Public Defender Tanya Simpson's memo.
Kaplan says he did not received any tickets nor was that his intent.
"I'll gladly stand up to any scrutiny anyone wants to throw at me," he said. "I have a sterling reputation."
The teen, who had violated probation by testing positive for marijuana and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, was before Kaplan on an open plea, which leaves it to the judge to determine the sentence.
Kaplan sentenced the teen to therapy and a psychological evaluation, rather than commitment to a drug-treatment facility as the prosecutor had sought, Simpson wrote.
In her memo, she said the teen's sentence was "milder than the mildest sentence I had expected."
Reached by phone Thursday, Simpson said: "I do not believe that the outcome of the case was influenced by the incident in question."
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel obtained Simpson's memo after making a public records request to the Broward Public Defender's Office for documents relating to a complaint recently filed against Kaplan with the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the state agency that polices judicial behavior.
Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein would not confirm whether his office had filed such a complaint. Complaints to the commission are supposed to be confidential and are not made public unless it decides to file charges.
Which considering the state of the Broward County bench, eight of whom have won a knucklehead, wouldn't look terribly surprising to me or others who follow the happenings in the Broward County Justice system. Kaplan was elected to the bench only last year, and he looks to have already picked up the bad and corrupt habits of his colleagues.
That the teen got a lighter sentence, and that someone filed a complaint with the JQC speaks volumes about what is going on. Charles Kaplan is another disgrace to the Florida justice in addition to being today's Knucklehead of the Day.
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