The Broward County Courthouse muckraker JAABlog -- which has helped to expose corruption in our judiciary time and again -- is under attack yet again, this time for allegedly "denigrating women."
Local attorney Barbara Heyer, who happens to be the wife of Broward County Judge Marc Gold, sent an oh-so-serious letter -- with "exhibits," mind you -- to JAABlog administrator Bill Gelin that basically accused Gelin, a lawyer, of violating the Florida Bar by posting the racy photograph (shown at right) on his blog.
Heyer wrote that she was "dismayed to see the display of a nude woman in a very suggestive and demeaning position" on the blog on April 23. The latter-day Queen Victoria continues:
"As you are a member of the Florida Bar, perhaps you need to be reminded that we have certain obligations to the Public and the legal community. Let me refer you to Rule 4-8.4(d), which states, in pertinent part, that a lawyer will not: 'engage in conduct in connection with the practice of law that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, including to knowingly, or through callous indifference, disparage, humiliate, or discriminate against litigants, jurors, witnesses, court personnel, or other lawyers on any basis... on account of race, ethnicity, gender..."
Heyer, who added the emphasized text, also wrote that "dozens, if not hundreds, of vile comments that have appeared on your blog serve only to
embarrass our profession."
The implication is clear here, but it's ridiculous. That photograph didn't humiliate or disparage any lawyers. And don't you just love the way these folks who fear JAABlog always act like their profession is so pure and virtuous? Such high-minded rhetoric might pass the smell test in a meeting of lawyers, but the public damned well knows better.
But Heyer is just one in a long line of those who want to shut down JAABlog. Recently, the Broward County Bar Association, a pseudo-official cheerleading outfit for the powers-that-be, came after him. That group appears to have been spurred to action by Chief Judge Victor Tobin, who railed about anti-Semitic comments that appeared on the blog (Pulp readers know how those can crop up from time to time).
More recently, Tobin called Gelin, who is Jewish, a "bigot" in the courthouse corridors. When Gelin challenged Tobin on that line of attack, he got a face full of chief judge. Here's how Gelin described the encounter:
Tobin kept walking, we politely persisted, until he stopped and stared us down, his eyes full of rage, looking like it was taking all his strength not to lash out with a punch. Luckily, he stayed under control, reiterating his desire to be left alone while still having the forethought to hold the elevator door open for us as we were walking in. We never got our answer.
Many judges have told us that Tobin has "anger issues." Or maybe the stress of getting his Taj Mahal built while all his judges are going down is getting to him. Whatever the deal, it was one of the weirdest and most disrepectful things ever seen in the Courthouse.
That's why they sometimes call it Broweird County, folks. Gelin responded to Heyer's April 27 letter with a letter of his own. In it, he called Heyer's claims "wildly inaccurate" and said he would continue to "expose injustice, racism, corruption, and hypocrisy in Broward County, all without the requirements of a massive contingency fee."
Gelin also wrote that he was was disappointed in the lawyer, whom he said he has held in "the highest esteem."
"[T]he only thing I can think of that would compound my disappointment would be the discovery that your husband Marc, an avid JAABlog reader whom I consider one of the most respected jurists in South Florida, is aware of and approves of the contents of your letter," Gelin wrote.
Finally, he provided this suggestion to Heyer: "If you don't like what you see, STOP READING."
Amen, and pass the ammunition.