During a Dolphin Democratic Club meeting in July, Broward County Judge John "Jay" Hurley, who handles first appearances every morning, said he would raise the bond of anyone who uses homophobic slurs like "fag" and "queer," according to the judge's opponent in his recent successful judicial race.
Hurley's opponent at the time, Melissa Minsk Donoho, wrote an email about it to the Broward Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers, saying while Hurley may have been "just pandering to the crowd" at the gay Democratic group, it amounted to a violation of judicial ethics.
Here's Donoho's email:
I have debated sending this out. I have tried to keep myself out of the fray as best as I can. However, I think it is important that you all know that Judge Hurley on Wednesday night told a crowd at the Dolphin Democratic club - the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender group that he raises the bonds of people in his courtroom who use the words "fag, queer" and one other word I can't remember. That was in response to a question we were asked regarding free speech and hate speech. I'm not sure if he was just pandering to the crowd, but he has intimated how he will rule in certain cases. It was also a clear violation of Canon 7 of ethics code which prevents us from discussing how we would rule in a particular situation.
In any event, If you have any concerns regarding your clients bonds this may be of interest.
Melissa Minsk Donoho, P.A.
Hmmm, I wonder what that third word was.
Look inside to see which prominent lawyer stood up to defend Hurley. Hint: This attorney is the go-to guy for local politicians accused of corruption and recently had a client who got an extraordinary break from Hurley regarding bond.
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Yes, of course it was David Bogenschutz, whose client George Shahood was recently released on his own recognizance by Hurley after he was charged with aggravated battery on a pregnant woman.
Here's the email from Bogenschutz:
I have rarely, if ever, written any response to any posting on the internet. However, in reading Ms. Donoho's remarks and her opinion and characterization of the judicial philosophy of Judge John J. Hurley, based upon his response to a question posed to him by an apparent attendee at the Dolphin Democratic Club, I am weighing in with, admittedly, my own opinion. I was not at that club meeting. However, I have been in the second floor courtroom occupied by Judge Hurley as First Appearance Magistrate, on numerous occasions. To suggest, based upon this response, that this jurist pre-judges anything, and does not give both sides an opportunity to litigate its position before ruling, is more than ludicrous. The idea that he may filter his decisions through the prism of politics, race, gender, or any other self-aggrandizing rationale, is equally spurious. That someone would think that without knowing his history on the bench would be a disservice. That an attorney running for a judgeship would say it and then distribute it over the internet to others, is worse. It is a further example of the real need for merit retention in circuit and county court races so that political machinations can be eliminated in the selection of our judiciary from top to bottom. Judge Hurley is a hardworking, compassionate, intelligent and courageous judge, in a difficult arena. He is no shrinking violet. He rules the way his conscience, the facts and the law as he believes it to be require. He deserves our support and our votes.
J. David Bogenschutz