Broward County Circuit Judge (and misdemeanor drug court judge) Gisele Pollack, who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in early May, sat before a panel of the state's Judicial Qualifications Commission on Thursday and vowed never to drink again.
Pollack, who pled guilty in September for driving under the influence, has had issues arise due to her drinking, including an incident while she was on the bench.
As a result, the Florida Supreme Court suspended her. She has been trying to get her career back on track ever since.
Another judge had to personally come and remove Pollack from the courtroom that day. Pollack then took a leave of absence but then she again arrived to work inebriated.
Back in March, Pollack was behaving erratically in the courtroom and at times slurred her words. Her meltdown on the bench led Pollack to take personal leave and shortly thereafter to check herself into an outpatient treatment program in Weston.
Her DUI arrest in May led to her being suspended, and she entered into rehab.
Pollack had put together a misdemeanor drug court that specialized in helping people arrested for marijuana violations by having them checked into a treatment facility rather than sound any time in jail.
Pollack had described this so-called marijuana court as a place where "defendants prepared to go through a treatment program and six months worth of testing, supervision and staying clean, would have the charges against them dismissed," according to a report in BrowardBulldog.
Following her suspension in May, Pollack's attorneys filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court requesting that Pollack still be paid her $138,000 annual salary. David Bogenschutz said Pollack's bout with alcohol meant it was a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act. In the petition, Pollack's alcoholism was compared to cancer:
"A suspension without pay will work an onerous hardship and be emotionally debilitating as she struggles to overcome this disability and disease," the petition reads. "If, in fact, Judge Pollack had been suffering from cancer or another disability that required her to be out of office in treatment or therapy, such a restriction would not have been appropriate."
That petition was rejected by the Florida Supreme Court.
On Thursday, before the panel, Pollack said she's had a drinking problem since 1980, and has been in and out of treatment facilities since.
She also attest to several incidents in her life that became triggers for her to drink, including the death of her mother last year.
"I can't afford to drink anymore because I don't want to ruin my life," she told the panel, per the Sun-Sentinel. "I'm enjoying life too much. I don't want to give it up for anything in the world."
The panel is tasked with making their recommendation to the Florida Supreme Court, which will ultimately decide what to do with Pollack's career.
"If we recommend something less [than removal from office] and you do this again, it's going to be tremendously damaging to public confidence in the judiciary," Second District Court of Appeal Judge Robert Morris said.
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