JAABlog reported that Broward Circuit Judge Charlie Kaplan has died of a heart attack; a source just called the Pulp and confirmed it. Kaplan, who was 45, the divorced father of three, and in charge of the juvenile delinquency program, was apparently found dead in his bed at home. He was elected to his judgeship in 2006, defeating Ken Padowitz. Once dubbed a "deep thinker" by the Sun-Sentinel, Kaplan started his career as a Broward prosecutor before a long stint in private practice as a defense attorney.
Though widely respected and well-liked, Kaplan had his share of controversy since coming onto the bench. He was removed from a case last year after he compared a teen defendant to the Columbine killers. Also last year, he was the subject of a Judicial Qualifications Commission investigation for allegedly giving his professional card to the father of a teen defendant who had told him he could get him free tickets to events. And most recently, he was embroiled in the controversy surrounding Judge Ana Gardiner. Kaplan was allegedly present the night that Gardiner and prosecutor Howard Scheinberg met for drinks during a first-degree murder trial and may have overheard Gardiner and Scheinberg improperly discussing the trial.
All were relatively minor issues in the scope of things. This is a big loss for the legal community.