So the Florida Supreme Court just accepted the State Attorney's motion to vacate the death penalty conviction of Omar Loureiro. Now we'll have a new murder trial, but there won't be an evidentiary hearing into the allegations against Judge Ana Gardiner.
In other words, Gardiner, who broke judicial rules and lied about it under oath, might just skate. And the saga that involved a badly misbehaving judge and prosecutor, the death of a 45-year-old judge, lies under oath, Peyton Place-like rumors and innuendo, and the overturning of a Death Row case is at least on hiatus, if not finished.
JAABlog, which broke the latest news and has done a phenomenal job covering this story, reports that Chief Judge Victor Tobin could reject the order and order a hearing.
Yes. AS IF. You can call Tobin a lot of things, but 'ethical champion' isn't one of them. He's Mr. Status Quo, there to keep the greasy wheels a rollin'.
I feel like I should pat Bill Gelin on the back right now and tell him, "Forget about it, Bill, it's Browardtown."
Sunrise Commissioner and Broward prosecutor Sheila Alu was the one that came forward on Gardiner's improper conduct with Howard Scheinberg. She stuck her neck out and went through a trying year as a result, facing a smear campaign from Gardiner's camp and occasional ostracization at the courthouse.
Alu wasn't very happy when she heard the news.
"Judge Gardiner violated this person's Constitutional rights, she lied under oath, lied about me, and she gets away with it," Alu said. "It went to the highest court in Florida and she still sits on the bench. How is a new lawyer supposed to feel any respect or any admiration for any of this?"
She said there was only one way it would be worth it.
"If lawyers start standing up and not allowing this kind of misconduct to happen, it was worth it," she says. "But if everybody continues to do the status quo here, then, no, it wasn't. I'm not saying all judges are corrupt; I've worked with a lot of amazing judges with great ethics. But there have been a few judges have put a dark light on the courthouse.
"When attorneys know and are aware of improper conduct on the behalf of judges they have a legal obligation to report it and they have an oath of loyalty to the Florida Bar to make sure people's Constitutional rights aren't trampled over. Would I do it again? Yes, but only if I knew that other people were going to stand up also."