TALLAHASSEE -- The Miami-Dade judge set to face a criminal mischief trial for destroying a pickup truck using a metal pipe in June escaped prosecution after the charges were dropped.
Victoria Brennan, a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge, was not charged for any criminal liability by the 20th Judicial Circuit. The decision came after the matter was initially placed in limbo when then Keys state attorney Catherine Vogel removed her office from the case. Due to her decision to recuse, Florida Gov. Rick Scott appointed Florida State Attorney Stephen Russell, the chief of the prosecutors in the 20th Judicial Circuit, to handle the case.
In the explanation she provided for her recusal, Vogel shared that she had a close relationship with Brennan in the past. According to the Keys state attorney, she and Brennan had worked together in the 1990s as Miami Dade County prosecutors. In addition, the defendant allegedly once dated one of the prosecutors in Vogel’s office.
Records show that no charges have been officially filed against Brennan. While the Monroe County deputies signed an arrest warrant against the judge, the pickup truck’s owner, Victor Garcia of Homestead, was convinced by Daniel Lurvey, the defendant’s lawyer, to not file charges anymore. According to the agreement with Garcia, Brennan then paid for the damages caused to the vehicle.
“After a thorough investigation, Judge Brennan has been exonerated of any wrongdoing,” shared Lurvey in a statement via the Florida Keys News. “She was never arrested or charged and this matter is concluded.”
As for Garcia, the petitioner appears to be eager to put the incident behind him.
“It was random. She’s a judge. She took care of what she did. They paid more – more than what it was worth. I don’t really want to talk about it," Lurvey told the Miami Herald.
The matter started on June 28 when Brennan purportedly found “three drunk males” in her Key Largo home. They were later identified as the same people partying with her 17-year-old son, police reports state, who had been arrested for a hit-and-run incident and was detained at a Plantation Key jail. When she asked the males to vacate the premises, they allegedly cursed at her and threatened her. Garcia and his companions later on claimed that Brennan proceeded to smash the pickup truck parked outside using a metal pipe.
Despite the fact that the criminal charges have been dropped, Brennan remains in danger of facing potential breach of Florida judicial ethics procedure. Since a warrant had been signed for her arrest or surrender, the rules dictate that the judge should have properly informed her superiors and the defendants in her court about the criminal case she was involved with.
“Generally speaking, a judge who has an arrest warrant out there has no business on the criminal bench. The judge should have asked to be reassigned so there wasn’t even the appearance of impropriety,” explained Miami lawyer Michael Catalano.