Pulp readers have been aware of the events surrounding Judge Ana Gardiner and alleged improper relationships with attorneys in her courtrooom for months. In the weeks after I broke the story, one of the lawyers named in it, veteran homicide prosecutor Howard Scheinberg, left the State Attorney's Office and Gardiner was transferred from her position as chief criminal judge while a Judicial Qualifications Commission investigation continues.
The Sun-Sentinel, amazingly, ignored the story until today, when courts reporter Tonya Alanez reported on an affidavit filed by Sheila Alu, the prosecutor and Sunrise city commissioner who was a key source in the story.
Several things about the Sentinel story astonished me. One was that it never mentioned Alu's status as an elected official. Another was that it didn't mention that Gardiner had been the chief criminal judge in Broward County when the story broke. And lastly was that it blatantly misled readers. Consider this passage from Alanez' article, which ran on the Sentinel's Metro front:
"His trial was tainted, in my opinion," said the complaining prosecutor, Sheila Alu, who swore to the accusations in a Sept. 9 affidavit. By speaking up, she said, she has faced ridicule, ostracism and character assassination.
Gardiner has since moved from the criminal to the civil division, and Scheinberg has left the Broward State Attorney's Office to practice civil law.
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Really, Tonya? After the September 9 affidavit was filed, Gardiner has "since moved" moved from criminal to civil (and how could she not mention here that Gardiner ran the entire criminal division?). No, Gardiner was demoted way back in June. Scheinberg left all the way back in May. All of these things occurred in the weeks after the New Times article was published (though it should be noted that Scheinberg denies that his leaving had anything to do with the Gardiner story).
Why did the Sentinel ridiculously downplay its own article and mislead its own readers? Well, maybe they didn't want to cite the original NT article, something any respectable publication would have done.
The good news is that things are happening in the case and the courthouse might get just a little bit cleaner because of all this. Playing a big role (one that might have also been cited by the Sentinel) has been JAABlog, which posted Alu's affidavit online last week, directly prompting the Sentinel's belated action.
The "alternative" media strikes again!