TALLAHASSEE — A Broward County circuit-court judge, who admitted
“undignified conduct” while sitting on the bench, has been
publicly reprimanded by the Florida Supreme Court.
According to a report
CBS Miami of the hearing, Judge John Patrick Contini stood silently
as the court assailed him over a series of emails from 2015 that he
sent to a public defender suggesting what forms and methods he should
take in seeking more-lenient sentences for some clients.
The judge didn’t make prosecutors aware of his actions until a
week later, prompting them to eventually seek to have him
disqualified from pending litigations.
Contini later rejected that request as legally insufficient, and
openly chastised prosecutors in his courtroom for daring to question
his authority or motivations.
The Judicial Qualifications Commission, which investigates such
violations, later told
the court that Contini took the matter of the disagreement with
prosecutors personally and ultimately made disparaging comments about
some of them.
In rendering the court’s decision, Supreme Court Chief Justice
Jorge Labarga told Contini his actions had brought damage to the
reputation of the court system and negatively impacted the level of
public confidence shared by citizens.
“The Commission has a range of disciplines it can recommend for
violations from a private reprimand all the way up to bench removal,”
Mike Schneider, JQC executive director of general counsel., told the
Florida Record. “I would say this level of discipline falls
somewhere in the middle.”
In addition to his public reprimand, Contini was ordered to
deliver a written letter of apology to prosecutors, continue active
judicial mentoring for three years, set up and complete a
stress-management program, and pay the costs of his disciplinary
Contini took the bench in 2015 and assigned a felony case load of
more than 1,000 cases.
The Florida Bar Association noted that Contini initially
challenged “the propriety of his ruling on the State’s
disqualification motion and appropriate discipline,” according to a
previous Florida Record report,
but after JQC conducted a second investigative hearing and an appeal
verdict was rendered he admitted he “lost it in court, overreacted,
personified incivility, and had no excuse for his comments,” the
Among his personal attacks was disparaging a prosecutor, whom he
suspected of creating the list of cases prosecutors later sought to
have him removed from.
Contini later was moved
to the family court division, where he currently still hears cases.
“The judge created the problem by wrongfully sending out the
motion he did to just one side,” Schneider said. “The public has
total knowledge of his reprimand as a result of that.”
The JQC issued
its final recommendations and findings following a final hearing,
where Contini wholly admitted to his duplicity.
Schneider added the commission did not stipulate that Contini be
reassigned as part of his discipline.
“We don’t have the authority to make those kinds of demands,”