Florida Bar: Double Standard... or Not?

Let's see if the Florida Bar is really about justice or just protecting the status quo.

Last year, the Florida Bar, of its own volition, decided to go after Broward Attorney Sean Conway for calling Judge Cheryl Aleman an "evil, unfair witch," among other choice terms, for her misbehavior on the bench. His words appeared on Broward's main courthouse blog, JAABlog, which breaks more courthouse stories than any other publication on a regular basis.

On top of that, but a little off topic, it also went after lawyer Chris Roberts after he had the audacity to blow the whistle on one of the worst judges in modern history, the weeping Larry Seidlin.

Now, we have the case of Assistant State Attorney John Gallagher, the head of Michael Satz's Drug Trafficking Unit. He also recently went after a judge, but it wasn't on some muckraking blog; it was in open court. JAABlog, of course, was the first to report on Gallagher's comments to Judge Carlos Rodriguez. Here are some excerpts from the blog:    

"I was present for the hearing and you didn't honor our substantial agreement. I told the Court, at that time, we would not be doing any more substantial agreements in front of Your Honor and that's where we're at" (p3).

"I cannot trust the Court to do the right thing next time we have an agreement with Your Honor" (p4).

"To me, the Court has a certain agenda. That's my perception of the Court. I apologize for stating my opinion. Since I was called in on  a case not even my own, I'll speak bluntly with the Court. That's the inference I'm drawing from the rulings you're making" (p5).

Basically, Gallagher accuses Rodriguez of being too lenient on drug cases, which is not, according to Gallagher, "the way we work" (p5).

Here you have a prosecutor having a hissy fit in court and telling the judge he was dishonorable (a king daddy allegation against "your honor"), untrustworthy, and operating from an ulterior "agenda."

Personally I don't like the rule. I think in America, anybody (including lawyers) should be able to criticize judges and everybody else as they see fit. What are these black-robed big shots so afraid of anyway? That somebody will get it right about them? Look, there are a lot of good judges, but damn, Broward's got its fair share of miserable ones too.

Still, the rule of the land forbids such conduct by attorneys. And Gallagher's comments do seem to rise to the level the bar set in the Conway case, eh? But Gallagher, of course, is an official, and he's tied to the wired web of power in Broward County.

So what it's gonna be, bar, justice or "just us." 

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman