TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court issued a
longer-than-recommended suspension for a 3rd Judicial
Circuit judge after reviewing alleged ethics violations that stemmed
According to a report
by Daily Business Review, Judge Andrew Decker was suspended for six
months, publicly reprimanded and required to pay costs of the
investigation that tracked alleged wrongdoing during his campaign for
Decker was one of several judges who were the focus of a probe by
the House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee. Speaker of the House
Richard Corcoran, a Republican from Land O’ Lakes, led the charge.
“I think that the speaker has made it clear that the focus on
investigating and prosecuting and ensuring that there’s the highest
ethical standards in the judiciary has nothing to do with outcomes
and all to do with the people’s confidence in the system,” Frank
Piccolo, Corcoran's director of communications, told the Florida
The Judicial Qualifications Commission recommended in March 2015
that Decker be suspended for 90 days and reprimanded. Following that,
the Supreme Court ordered Decker to show why he should not suffer
consequences. Decker was found in violation of campaign restrictions
placed on judicial candidates, and that he did not withdraw from a
lawsuit despite a conflict of interest. The high court gave him a
“All the violations established in this case demonstrate a
pattern of poor judgment, and a lack of concern for jointly
represented clients and for other counsel and their clients,” the
Supreme Court wrote in its opinion, according to Daily
However, the court also noted that the violations didn’t
immediately harm anyone, thus the long suspension in lieu of removal
from the bench.
The longer suspension and public reprimand may serve to restore
public confidence in the judicial process, although Corcoran’s
office claimed suspension alone isn’t always a harsh-enough
“The outcome of the individual cases is a concern in the sense
that you don’t want a racist judge on the bench, which we had in
another case,” Piccolo said. In those cases, in which the behaviors
are racism or sexism, “you want to make sure the outcome is
What Corcoran wants to make clear is that the investigations into
judicial conduct are not about rulings that may or may not have gone
in favor for some people.
“These investigations are not about judicial outcomes in a sense
that we don’t like the way the judges rule, so we’re going to get
rid of them. That’s not what these are about,” Piccolo said.
Decker is not alone. Former Duval County Circuit Judge Mark Hulsey
the day before the public inquiry began.
The inquiry into wrongdoing by those held to the highest ethical
standards will continue if Corcoran has his way, Piccolo said.
“We’re going to continue to pursue any and all ethical
violations in the judiciary and will investigate claims of such as
long as this speaker is speaker of the house,” he said.