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Florida Supreme Court Shirk Florida Bar

The Florida Bar filed a formal complaint against Matt Shirk at request of the Florida Supreme Court, which rejected a conditional guilty plea.

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Referee appointed to review Florida Bar complaint against Matt Shirk

Case stems from alleged ethics violations from Shirk’s tenure as Public Defender for the Fourth Circuit

JUL 1, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: JUL 22, 2021

A court-appointed referee is reviewing the Florida Bar’s complaint against former Fourth Circuit Public Defender Matt Shirk and could recommend potential sanctions for him, according to court records.

The Florida Bar filed a formal complaint against Shirk at the request of the Florida Supreme Court, which rejected a conditional guilty plea the former public defender entered earlier this year to resolve alleged ethics violations that occurred while he held public office.

Chief Judge Raul Zambrano of the Seventh Judicial Circuit was appointed to serve as referee and investigate the contents of the Bar’s complaint by hearing witnesses and reviewing evidence. If the referee recommends guilt, he will also recommend appropriate sanctions. Barring an extension, Zambrano has until Oct. 11 to submit his findings.

The court proceedings stem from Shirk’s time in office as public defender from 2009 to 2017.

Among other things, Shirk was accused of hiring three young women outside of normal hiring practices and later firing them to save his marriage. He was also accused of serving or consuming alcohol in a city building, and of revealing privileged client information to a film crew.

Those accusations led to a grand jury investigation whose findings were sent to the Florida Commission on Ethics, which resulted in public censure, reprimand and a $6,000 fine. The ethics commission found Shirk’s conduct violated ethics rules relating to professional behavior.

In February, Shirk agreed to enter a conditional guilty plea in which he admitted violating several rules of the Florida Bar, including the Rules of Professional Conduct, in exchange for a six-month suspension from practicing law. The state Supreme Court rejected the conditional plea and ordered the Bar to file a formal complaint against Shirk.

Court records show a case management conference is set for July 9.

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Federal Judges

To Sanction or Not to Sanction, That is the Question

Neither the show-cause nor the sanctions order squarely placed the blame for these delays on the attorneys nor to a finding of bad faith.

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Miller v. Midland Credit Managment, Inc., 11th Cir, 20-13390, Sep 17, 2021

When you look up Attorney Daniel Zemel in Florida, he’s disbarred. The Daniel Zemel in this case is in NJ and in good standing, but the question remains, is this the same attorney or did the normal procedure of Bar reciprocal discipline slip through the net in this instance? Contact LIF if you have any information.

REPUBLISHED BY LIT: SEP 17, 2021

(September 17, 2021)

Before LAGOA, BRASHER and MARCUS, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM:

Attorneys Daniel Zemel and Brian Giles appeal from the district court’s order imposing sanctions on them, arising out of their representation of plaintiff Deondra Miller in the district court.

On appeal, the attorneys argue that the district court abused its discretion in sanctioning them:

(1) by not providing sufficient notice before issuing sanctions;

(2) by basing its decision on insufficient evidence and failing to make a finding of bad faith;

and

(3) by ignoring evidence the attorneys presented in denying their motion for reconsideration.

After careful review, we vacate and remand the order imposing sanctions.

The relevant procedural background is this. In 2019, Deondra Miller filed a class action complaint against Midland Credit Management, Inc. (“Midland”), asserting violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.

Pursuant to a pretrial scheduling order referring the case to mediation, the mediation should have been conducted by June 4, 2020. Because that deadline had passed and the record did not reflect that a mediation had occurred, the district court directed the parties to file a status report.

On June 12, 2020, the parties filed a status report explaining that they had scheduled a mediation for June 16, 2020. In a subsequent order, the district court noted that the parties did not “address why despite their diligence, [they] have been unable to mediate by the mediation deadline.” But the court entered a “limited” extension of the mediation deadline to June 16 and ordered the parties to file a mediation report by the next day. The court also instructed the parties to explain any further requests to extend the mediation deadline.

On June 16, the mediator filed a report explaining that while Miller’s attorneys had appeared, she did not, so the mediation could not proceed. The next day, Midland filed a status report and requested that the district court enter sanctions against Miller for her failure to appear. Attorney Zemel also filed a status report that day, noting that he did not know why Miller did not appear at the mediation. He said that the last communication his office had had with Miller was on June 14, when Miller confirmed that she would be attending the mediation, and that despite his attempts to reach her, he had not heard back from her.

On June 19, the district court entered an order to show cause why Miller failed to appear at the mediation. In it, the court also ordered Miller’s counsel to “address whether they have regained contact with their client,” noting that “representation requires communication.” The court explained that while its order “may seem harsh in isolation,” there were many other examples of Miller’s “lack of diligence” in prosecuting the case. On June 22, Miller responded to the order to show cause, noting that counsel had regained contact with her. She explained that she did not attend the mediation because she was relieved of duty from work three hours late, and could not access her phone to inform her attorneys of this unexpected issue.

On June 25, 2020, the district court imposed sanctions on Miller and her attorneys. After discussing the reasons for the imposition of sanctions against Miller (who does not join in this appeal), the district court said:

H]ad I not entered the Order to Show Cause . . . there is no indication that [Miller] or her counsel would have made known to the Court the circumstances surrounding her failure to appear. Counsel should have made a prompt and reasonable investigation into [Miller’s] failure to appear and immediately informed the Court of the reasoning for the same. Counsel did not. This led to my entry of the Order to Show Cause and it was only then that Counsel investigated and discovered the circumstances surrounding [Miller’s] failure to appear.

The parties settled the lawsuit. However, Zemel and Giles requested the court to reconsider its sanctions order. The motion detailed counsel’s efforts to reach Miller from June 16 to June 22, 2020. The court denied the motion, finding that “counsel [did] not provide any new argument or evidence that would justify granting the requested relief.” This timely appeal followed.

We review a district court’s decision to impose sanctions under its inherent powers for abuse of discretion. Amlong & Amlong, P.A. v. Denny’s, Inc., 500 F.3d 1230, 1237–38 (11th Cir. 2007). That standard requires us to affirm unless we find that the district court made a clear error of judgment or applied the wrong legal standard. Id. at 1238. “A decision that is contrary to the law plainly is an abuse of discretion.” Id.

“A court may impose sanctions for litigation misconduct under its inherent power.” Eagle Hosp. Physicians, LLC v. SRG Consulting, Inc., 561 F.3d 1298, 1306 (11th Cir. 2009). The inherent power is “vested in courts to manage their own affairs so as to achieve the orderly and expeditious disposition of cases.”      Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 43 (1991) (quotations omitted).

However, this power “must be exercised with restraint and discretion.” Roadway Express, Inc. v. Piper, 447 U.S. 752, 764 (1980). Thus, when a district court is imposing sanctions under its inherent power, it must “comply with the mandates of due process.” Chambers,501 U.S. at 50. In this context, “[d]ue process requires that the attorney (or party) be given fair notice that his conduct may warrant sanctions and the reasons why. Notice can come from the party seeking sanctions, from the court, or from both.” In re Mroz, 65 F.3d 1567, 1575 (11th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted). The court is also required to give the attorneys “an opportunity to respond, orally or in writing, to the invocation of such sanctions and to justify [their] actions.” Id. at 1575–76.

Here, the record indicates that the district court did not provide attorneys Zemel and Giles with fair notice that it was considering imposing sanctions against them for their client’s failure to appear at the mediation. For starters, the pretrial scheduling order referring the case to mediation warned that “[t]he Court may impose sanctions against parties or counsel who do not comply with” mediation requirements. But Miller’s attorneys attended the mediation; only Miller herself did not. Then, after Miller did not attend the scheduled mediation, Midland requested the court to sanction Miller for her failure to appear. The motion notably did not mention sanctions against Miller’s attorneys.

Nor did the district court’s subsequent order to show cause constitute fair notice of possible sanctions against the attorneys. The order directed Miller to show cause why she failed to appear at the mediation, but only ordered counsel to “address whether they have regained contact with their client.” The only other comments specifically directed at counsel noted that: “Representation requires communication. Plaintiff’s counsel cannot continue to represent Plaintiff if she has abandoned their representation and more generally this lawsuit.” The order concluded by again directing counsel only to “indicate on the record whether they have regained contact with their client.” There is simply no support for Midland’s argument that these few sentences put Miller’s attorneys on notice about the possibility of sanctions against them, nor that the order’s general discussion of Miller’s lack of diligence throughout the litigation did so either.

Indeed, in Miller’s response to the show-cause order, her lawyer Zemel said that he “has regained contact with his client,” but did not address any potential sanctions against the attorneys themselves. The response instead focused on why Miller did not attend the mediation, and asked the district court to decline to impose sanctions on Miller alone.

Thus, reading the record as a whole, it appears that the parties believed that the district court was considering imposing sanctions against Miller, but not against her counsel. As a result, we do not think that Zemel and Giles were given a meaningful opportunity to respond to that possibility. See United States v. Shaygan, 652 F.3d 1297, 1318 (11th Cir. 2011) (“The district court conducted an inquiry, not an adversarial hearing, and both [attorneys] were denied a meaningful opportunity to be heard in that proceeding.”). “We express no view about whether the district court should conduct further proceedings” — and readily acknowledge that it was within the district court’s purview to consider sanctions against counsel in this context — “but if the district court decides again to consider sanctions against [Zemel and Giles], it must, of course, afford them due process.” Id. at 1319. As we see it, the district court has not yet done so.

Moreover, if a district court decides to impose sanctions, a finding of bad faith is required.

See Chambers, 501 U.S. at 49 (recognizing that “invocation of [sanctions under] the inherent power would require a finding of bad faith”); see also Wilson v. Citigroup, N.A., 702 F.3d 720, 724 (2d Cir. 2012) (“Our case law is clear that a district court may not impose attorney’s fees as a sanction without first making an explicit finding that the sanctioned party . . . acted in bad faith in engaging in the sanctionable conduct.”); Primus Auto. Fin. Servs., Inc. v. Batarse, 115 F.3d 644, 648 (9th Cir. 1997) (“Before awarding sanctions under its inherent powers, however, the court must make an explicit finding that counsel’s conduct ‘constituted or was tantamount to bad faith.’” (quoting Roadway Exp., 447 U.S. at 767)).

A finding of bad faith is warranted where a party delays or disrupts the litigation.   Barnes v.Dalton, 158 F.3d 1212, 1214 (11th Cir. 1998).

Here, when addressing the attorneys in the sanctions order, the district court said only that they “should have made a prompt and reasonable investigation into [Miller’s] failure to appear and immediately informed the Court of the reasoning for the same.” Importantly, however, the court did not make the requisite finding of bad faith before imposing the sanctions.

See Roadway Exp., 447 U.S. at 767 (“[T]he trial court did not make a specific finding as to whether counsel’s conduct in this case constituted or was tantamount to bad faith, a finding that would have to precede any sanction under the court’s inherent powers.”).

Nor did the district court mention bad faith or cite the bad-faith standard from the Supreme Court or our Court. Cf. Metz v. Unizan Bank, 655 F.3d 485, 490 (6th Cir. 2011). We recognize that the court mentioned in the show-cause order that the plaintiff had been “far from diligent in this litigation,” perhaps attributing Miller’s delays to her attorneys. But neither the show-cause order nor the sanctions order squarely placed the blame for these delays on the attorneys nor did they tie them to a finding of bad faith. It’s also worth noting that, as best we can tell, counsel did inform the district court the day after Miller failed to attend the mediation that she had not appeared; that counsel did not know why Miller had not appeared; and that counsel had been unable to reach her despite several attempts to inquire why.

On this record, “we cannot glean . . . whether [the district court’s] outrage [at Miller’s attorneys] stemmed from a belief that [the] attorneys acted in bad faith, or whether it was due to a belief that they acted negligently or without due diligence.” Mroz, 65 F.3d at 1576; see also Primus, 115 F.3d at 649. It may be that the district court’s imposition of sanctions was based on a finding of bad faith and was supported by the record. At this time, however, we cannot make this determination.

Accordingly, we vacate the court’s order imposing sanctions and remand.1

VACATED AND REMANDED.

1 Because we resolve the case on this ground, we need not address Zemel and Giles’s argument about the motion for reconsideration.

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U.S. District Court
Southern District of Florida (West Palm Beach)
CIVIL DOCKET FOR CASE #: 9:19-cv-81660-DMM

Miller v. Midland Credit Managment, Inc.
Assigned to: Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks
Referred to: Magistrate Judge Dave Lee Brannon

Case in other court:  20-13390-GG

Cause: 15:1692 Fair Debt Collection Act

Date Filed: 12/11/2019
Date Terminated: 07/07/2020
Jury Demand: Plaintiff
Nature of Suit: 480 Consumer Credit
Jurisdiction: Federal Question
Plaintiff
Deondra Miller
individually, and on behalf of all other similarly situated consumers,
represented by Daniel Zemel
Zemel Law LLC
1373 Broad Street, Suite 203-C
Clifton, NJ 07013
862-227-3106
Email: dz@zemellawllc.com
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDBrian Thomas Giles
The Law Offices of Brian T. Giles, LLC
1470 Apple Hill Road
Cincinnati, OH 45230
513-379-2715
Fax: 513-562-8822
Email: Brian@gileslenox.com
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
V.
Defendant
Midland Credit Managment, Inc. represented by Cory William Eichhorn
Holland & Knight LLP
701 Brickell Avenue
Suite 3300
Miami, FL 33131
305-374-8500
Fax: 305789-7799
Email: cory.eichhorn@hklaw.com
LEAD ATTORNEY
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDPhilip E. Rothschild
Holland & Knight
515 E Las Olas Boulevard
Suite 1200
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
954-468-7881
Email: phil.rothschild@hklaw.com
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

 

Date Filed # Docket Text
06/22/2020 51 RESPONSE TO ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE re 49 Order to Show Cause,, Order Referring Case to Magistrate Judge,, Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings, by Deondra Miller. (Giles, Brian) (Entered: 06/22/2020)
06/24/2020 52 REPLY to Response to Motion re 47 MOTION for Leave to File Sur Reply23 MOTION for Summary Judgment and Incorporated Memorandum of Law filed by Deondra Miller. (Giles, Brian) (Entered: 06/24/2020)
06/24/2020 54 REPLY (Sur-Reply) to 32 Response in Opposition to Motion by Deondra Miller.See image at DE 52 (lk) (Entered: 06/25/2020)
06/25/2020 53 Order Imposing Sanctions. If no resolution is reached, Defendant SHALL FILE an affidavit, by 7/6/2020. Signed by Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks on 6/25/2020. See attached document for full details. (jbs) (Entered: 06/25/2020)
06/25/2020 55 Clerks Notice to Filer re 52 Reply to Response to Motion. Wrong Event Selected; ERROR – The Filer selected the wrong event. The document was re-docketed by the Clerk, see [de#54]. It is not necessary to refile this document. (lk) (Entered: 06/25/2020)
06/25/2020 56 PAPERLESS MINUTE ENTRY for proceedings held before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dave Lee Brannon: Settlement Conference held on 6/25/2020 via Zoom Video Conference. Plaintiff present with her counsel, Daniel Zemel, Esq. || Defendant’s corporate representative/counsel, Matthew Jubenville, Esq., present with defense counsel, Cory Eichhorn, Esq. Negotiations held. CASE SETTLED IN FULL. Final terms of settlement announced on the record and confirmed by all parties present. Final dismissal documents to be filed within 10 days of today’s date. (Zoom Video Recording Start Time: 10:15 A.M. || Time in Court: 3 hrs. 5 mins.) (jrz) (Entered: 06/25/2020)
06/25/2020 57 PAPERLESS ORDER. According to a minute entry from the settlement conference conducted by Judge Brannon, the Parties have settled this lawsuit. (DE 56). I congratulate the Parties on reaching an amicable resolution of this case. Consistent with Judge Brannon’s instruction and the Pretrial Scheduling Orders instructions (DE 11 at 7) closing documents to be submitted within 10 days, meaning they are due on or before July 6, 2020. The Court will retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the Parties’ settlement agreement if requested to do so before closing the case. The Parties are advised that the Notice of Settlement does not stay this litigation, and therefore until a joint stipulation of dismissal is filed, the court will expect compliance with all pretrial deadlines. Signed by Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks on 6/25/2020. (jdr) (Entered: 06/25/2020)
07/06/2020 58 MOTION for Reconsideration re 53 Order, Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings by Deondra Miller. (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit Declaration of Daniel Zemel, # 2 Exhibit Exhibit A to Declaration, # 3 Exhibit Exhibit B to Declaration, # 4 Exhibit Exhibit C to Declaration, # 5 Text of Proposed Order)(Giles, Brian) (Entered: 07/06/2020)
07/06/2020 59 PAPERLESS ORDER. Plaintiff has filed a Motion for Reconsideration of my order imposing sanctions against Plaintiff and her counsel. (DE 58 ). Plaintiff’s counsel requests that the order be modified so that only Plaintiff and not counsel is sanctioned. (Id.). The Parties are reminded that closing documents in this lawsuit are currently due today, July 6, 2020. (DE 56; DE 57). If requested to do so, the Court will retain jurisdiction over the motion for reconsideration before closing this case. The filing of the motion for reconsideration should not delay the Parties filing of the appropriate closing documents. Signed by Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks on 7/6/2020. (jdr) (Entered: 07/06/2020)
07/06/2020 60 STIPULATION of Dismissal With Prejudice by Midland Credit Managment, Inc. (Eichhorn, Cory) (Entered: 07/06/2020)
07/07/2020 61 ORDER CLOSING CASE. Signed by Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks on 7/7/2020. See attached document for full details. (jas) (Entered: 07/07/2020)
07/09/2020 62 RESPONSE in Opposition re 58 MOTION for Reconsideration re 53 Order, Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings filed by Midland Credit Managment, Inc.. Replies due by 7/16/2020. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit)(Rothschild, Philip) (Entered: 07/09/2020)
07/09/2020 63 REPLY to Response to Motion re 58 MOTION for Reconsideration re 53 Order, Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings filed by Deondra Miller. (Giles, Brian) (Entered: 07/09/2020)
08/28/2020 64 ORDER ON MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION denying 58 MOTION for Reconsideration re 53 Order, Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings filed by Deondra Miller Signed by Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks on 8/28/2020. See attached document for full details. (pcs) (Entered: 08/28/2020)
09/09/2020 65 Notice of Appeal as to 53 Order, Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings by Deondra Miller. Filing fee $ 505.00 receipt number AFLSDC-13489016. Within fourteen days of the filing date of a Notice of Appeal, the appellant must complete the Eleventh Circuit Transcript Order Form regardless of whether transcripts are being ordered [Pursuant to FRAP 10(b)]. For information go to our FLSD website under Transcript Information. (Giles, Brian) (Entered: 09/09/2020)
09/14/2020 66 Acknowledgment of Receipt of NOA8/9/20 from USCA re 65 Notice of Appeal, filed by Deondra Miller. Date received by USCA: 9/9/20. USCA Case Number: 20-13390-G. (hh) (Entered: 09/14/2020)
09/25/2020 67 TRANSCRIPT INFORMATION FORM by Deondra Miller re 65 Notice of Appeal,. No Transcript Requested. (Giles, Brian) (Entered: 09/25/2020)
11/17/2020 68 Pursuant to F.R.A.P. 11(c), the Clerk of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida certifies that the record is complete for purposes of this appeal re: 65 Notice of Appeal, Appeal No. 20-13390-GG. The entire record on appeal is available electronically. (apz) (Entered: 11/17/2020)
11/24/2020 69 ORDER of Dismissal of USCA, DISMISSED for want of prosecution because the appellant Deondra Miller failed to file an appendix within the time fixed by the rules as to 65 Notice of Appeal, filed by Deondra Miller, USCA # 20-13390-GG (hh) (APPEAL REINSTATED BY USCA ON 12/8/20) Text Modified on 12/9/2020 (hh). (Entered: 11/24/2020)
12/08/2020 70 Appeal Reinstated USCA Case Number:20-13390-GG for 65 Notice of Appeal, filed by Deondra Miller. (hh) (Entered: 12/09/2020)
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Federal Judges

George Zimmerman of ‘How’s My Driving’ Died While Fighting Foreclosure In Florida

PNC Bank filed for foreclosure of Zimmerman’s West Palm Beach residence in S.D. Fl. District court in March and George passed in October 2019.

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PNC Bank, National Association v. Zimmermann

(9:19-cv-80540)
District Court, S.D. Florida

SEP 5, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: SEP 5, 2021

PNC filed for foreclosure of Zimmerman’s West Palm Beach residence in S.D. Fl. District court on March 18, 2019. A notice of Lis Pendens by PNC Bank, National Association for property located at 257 E. Lakewood Road, West Palm Beach, FL 33405 was filed on April 22.

George Zimmerman passed on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. Court records show the case was stayed on Oct. 16, the day of the funeral at the family-run funeral home (Salandra) in PA. The stay was vacated by court order on March 5 and PNC aggressively returned to the task at hand, foreclosure of the property.

After some months, in early June 2020 a settlement was reached. On Aug. 31, 2020 PNC released the lis pendens and voluntarily dismissed the case, of course, with prejudice.

George P. Zimmermann, age 76, of Avella, PA and West Palm Beach, FL passed away peacefully Friday, October 11, 2019 in Good Samaritan Hospital, West Palm Beach, FL.

He was born August 18, 1943 in Astoria Queens, NY, a son of the late George Phillip and Evelyn Veronica Haney Zimmermann. He graduated from Power Memorial High School and attended Queens College both in New York.

George was an accomplished entrepreneur who started and successfully ran many businesses in his life.

He was founder and CEO of Sertec Corp. and held the copyright for “How’s My Driving?” seen on the back of thousands of vehicles.

A business associate of his is quoted as saying “his creativeness and business acumen were to be greatly admired.”

Left behind to cherish his memory are his devoted wife Lisa Salandra Zimmermann, his beloved children sons Nicholas and Pierce and daughter Margaux at home, son Frederick Zimmermann of Ocklawaha, FL, daughter Kimberly Allegrini and her husband Andrew of Montgomery, NY, grandchildren Anna and Frederick Zimmermann and Brandon and Charlie Kroll, his sister Anne Leonardo and her husband Alfonso of Woodhaven, NY and his loving sisters-in-law Linda Salandra Dweck and her husband Edward and Diana Salandra all of Palm Beach, FL.

Friends and relatives were welcome from 2:00PM to 4:00PM and 6:00PM to 8:00PM Wednesday, October 16, 2019 in Salandra Funeral and Cremation Services, Inc. Joseph P. Salandra owner/supervisor where a Blessing Services will take place at noon Thursday, October 17, 2019.

Entombment will follow in Queen of Heaven Cemetery, Peters Township, McMurray, PA. A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00AM Monday, November 11, 2019 at St. Edwards Roman Catholic Church, Palm Beach.

To view or extend condolences please visit www.salandrafunerals.com

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Editors Choice

Judge Barbara Hobbs Son is Arrested for Attempted Murder. Her ExtraJudicial Intervention is Granted

JQC panel acquitted Judge Barbara Hobbs of attempting to “arrange unmonitored and unrecorded contact” with her son in jail.

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Tallahassee Judge Barbara Hobbs urges state Supreme Court to stick with 60-day suspension

Hobbs has been accused of improperly getting involved after her son’s arrest.

AUG 9, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: SEP 5, 2021

Tallahassee Circuit Judge Barbara Hobbs is suggesting the Florida Supreme Court stick with a recommendation that she be suspended for 60 days and face a public reprimand for ethics violations.

Hobbs has been accused by the Judicial Qualifications Commission of improperly getting involved after her son Justin Haynes arrest in Tallahassee on attempted second-degree murder charges, among other charges.

Her attorney, Roosevelt Randolph, wrote in a filing last week that a hearing panel recommended a harsher penalty against his client than had been administered in other cases.

The panel in June found her guilty of inappropriately “representing” her son while he was being interrogated by the Tallahassee Police Department, an issue called a “serious ethical question” by Chief Judge Jonathan Sjostrom during Hobbs’ hearing.

Interrogation of Justin Haynes with Judge Hobbs in Attendance

But the same panel also acquitted her of other ethics charges, including that she tried to “arrange unmonitored and unrecorded contact” with her son in jail.

Nonetheless, the commission’s general counsel, Alexander Williams, wrote in his own filing that

“Hobbs’ conduct was inappropriate (and) did not promote public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.”

Hobbs was first elected in 2012 to the 2nd Circuit bench, which covers Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties. She currently handles family law cases in Leon County, according to an administrative order.

The court is on its summer hiatus, with the regular release of opinions resuming Aug. 26, 2021. Time-sensitive cases still can be released at any time, spokesman Craig Waters has said.

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