House panel critical of court over JQC case

first_imgHouse panel critical of court over JQC case March 1, 2017 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News House panel critical of court over JQC case Senior Editor For the second time in a month, a Florida House committee has received a scathing report about a pending Judicial Qualifications Commission proceeding against a sitting judge, including hints that an impeachment proceeding may be in the offing. In the first case, Fourth Circuit Judge Mark Hulsey resigned in January the day before the House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee was set to look into charges pending at the JQC that he misused law clerks, used his judicial assistant for personal tasks, and made racially charged statements. On February 14 the committee heard a report on the case against Third Circuit Judge Andrew J. Decker III, who has been subject of a JQC inquiry since 2013, stemming from his actions as an attorney before being elected to the bench in 2012 and violations of judicial canons governing campaign activities. (Hulsey’s case had not been adjudicated by the JQC’s hearing panel; for Decker the JQC had recommended discipline to the Supreme Court.) Committee Chair Rep. Larry Metz, R-Groveland, said the committee was exercising its oversight of another branch, including why the Supreme Court has not acted more than a year after it received responses to its last show cause order. “It’s a very long time to have a judge being under that type of order and having no final action occur,” he said. “It gives you a feel why we’re concerned about this, why we feel this is taking too long and needs to be brought to a conclusion. This is part of our oversight function, shining a light on something we feel may not be right.” Carine Mitz, a staff attorney for the committee, noted in March 2015 the Supreme Court entered a show cause order why it should not approve the JQCs findings and recommended discipline for Decker of a 90-day suspension without pay and a public reprimand. After the responses were filed in May, the court entered another show cause order in November 2015, asking why Decker’s discipline should not be more severe, including perhaps removal from office. Responses were filed by February 2016, and the court has not yet acted, Mitz said. She noted that the Rules of Judicial Administration has a goal of 180 days for deciding cases on appeal after completion of briefing or oral arguments, which the court failed to achieve both on its first and second show cause orders. She said JQC findings on Decker included: • During a televised debate in his judicial campaign, Decker claimed he had never been charged with a conflict of interest even though a former client had filed a Bar complaint against him three months previously alleging a conflict. Before the JQC, Decker admitted the conflict. • Decker represented a sitting judge and two partners regarding dealings with property they owned, including a foreclosure. At the same time, Decker represented a couple in a separate foreclosure proceeding that was scheduled to be heard by the same judge, and he failed to inform the lawyer representing the other side. Decker admitted that conduct. • Related to the property owned by the judge and the two partners, Decker took action that favored the judge and harmed the other two clients, causing them to seek other counsel and one to file the Bar complaint. He never explained to the clients the advantages and risks of representing all three in the same case. None of the clients executed a conflict of interest waiver, Mitz said. • In another foreclosure case where Decker represented one of the defendants, Decker and his client met secretly with another defendant and reached an agreement without informing that defendant’s attorney. According to JQC records, a Bar grievance committee found probable cause on at least some of the charges on December 14, after Decker’s election and less than a month before he took office. The file was forwarded to the JQC on January 10, days after Decker joined the bench. Mitz said all of Decker’s actions occurred when he was an attorney and hence could not be subject of an impeachment by the Legislature. However, she said there were two possible parts of his testimony before the JQC that might be a basis for the committee to act. In the conflict of interest case, she noted that Kris Robinson, the new attorney for Decker’s former client who filed the Bar grievance, testified to the JQC that in an attempt to settle litigation over the property Decker tried to include as a condition that Robinson’s client would drop the Bar grievance case. Robinson said he refused that request. Before the JQC, Decker denied he made such a request. If Decker were found to be lying on that, it would constitute grounds for impeachment, since it occurred when he was a judge, Mitz said. The second issue involved Decker’s testimony that he had received a private reprimand from the Bar in 1985, but he could not recall why he had been disciplined, except to say it was not related to his trust account. Mitz questioned whether any attorney would forget the cause of a Bar discipline. In response to a question from a committee member, she said the court was empowered to impose a range of lawyer sanctions from letters of admonishment to private reprimands to suspensions to disbarment. At another point, she said, “You and I and all the other citizens have no idea what he was reprimanded for. A legislator charged to check and balance on other branches of government might righteously wonder how such secret proceedings protect the people from lawyers and judges and particularly unethical lawyers who become judges.” (The Supreme Court did away with private reprimands in 1990. Under current rules, Bar records related to any grievance filed are public record for a year after the case is concluded, after which the records are destroyed. Records are kept for the life of the attorney plus 10 years where a discipline is imposed.) Mitz did not mention to the committee other charges the JQC found as proven against Decker, including that at a campaign forum he identified himself as a Republican. Challenged later at that event that candidates were not supposed to reveal their personal positions, Decker said he was “pro-life” and had been since college. Those actions violated judicial canons, Bar rules, and state law, the JQC said. In response to a question from Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, on whether Judge Decker was aware the committee would be looking at his case and whether he was invited to the meeting, Mitz said he was not invited and she was unaware if he knew about the proceeding. Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, asked Mitz about her contention, made twice, that Rule of Judicial Administration 2.250 “requires” the court to act within 180 days when a case is ready for decision. He noted the rule said the time standards are “presumptively reasonable times” and most cases should be completed in those time frames. Mitz agreed the rule is not a requirement, but added, “My position is 180 days is a sufficient time to decide whether you’re going to reprimand someone 90 days without pay or removal.. . . We’re at 13 months now.” While Metz said the committee was exercising its oversight function, he did not rule out an eventual impeachment process, adding “We’re sort of parallel tracking that right now with the information Ms. Mitz referred to with the [JQC] testimony.” Craig Waters, spokesperson for the Supreme Court, declined any comment on the committee’s actions. “The court cannot comment on the pending JQC case, because doing so would tend to violate the guarantee of due process as well as the judicial ethics rules,” he said. Scott Tozian, who represented Decker before the JQC, said neither he nor the judge knew about the committee’s presentation until a reporter emailed him while it was ongoing. “This is a political issue between the Legislature and the Supreme Court, and Judge Decker has the misfortune of having a case that has been pending for some time before the Supreme Court,” he said. “The suggestion the court doesn’t properly handle JQC cases is wildly inaccurate.” Tozian said he’s handled cases before the JQC for around 20 years, and said the current court is the strictest on disciplining judges in his experience. As for Mitz’s report, “What they presented, it was really synopsized a lot,” he said. “It was a summary that doesn’t necessarily match my belief of what the different counts were.”last_img read more

Indians Take Second Straight From Twins 11-4: Three Takeaways From the Win

first_img Matt Loede has been a part of the Cleveland Sports Media for over 21 years, with experience covering Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, the National Football League and even high school and college events. He has been a part of the Cleveland Indians coverage since the opening of Jacobs/Progressive Field in 1994, and spent two and a half years covering the team for 92.3 The Fan, and covers them daily for Associated Press Radio. You can follow Matt on Twitter HERE. Matt Loede The Tribe has found success on the road the last two nights against AL Central opponent the Minnesota Twins, and while Monday it was the pitching that was the story, the 9-4 win on Tuesday was highlighted by the teams’ offense.Cleveland put up 11 runs on 12 hits, and got contributions from some of their big bats in the lineup including Jose Ramirez, Frankie Lindor and even a late blast from Edwin Encarnacion.Josh Tomlin threw well enough to earn his first win of the season after two forgettable starts, and overall the Tribe looks to be getting some momentum back as they have won three of their last four after losing four of six on their first homestand of 2017.Here’s three takeaways from the win that puts the Indians now at 7-7 on the year, dropping the Twins to 7-7 as well. Pages: 1 2 3 4 Related TopicsAL CentralIndiansJosh TomlinMLBTwinslast_img read more

Seminoles hold off Jackets to win ACC title

first_imgCharlotte NC ( – Florida State was able to stop Georgia Tech’s potent triple-option attack for most of the second half and the second-ranked Seminoles captured their third straight ACC title with a 37-35 win over the No. 12 Yellow Jackets.Roberto Aguayo made three field goals in the second half and the Seminoles (13-0) extended their winning streak to 29 games. With the win Florida State all but locked up a spot in the College Football Playoff.The Seminoles entered the game No. 4 in the CFP rankings. Dec 6, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Matthew McNulty (24) and quarterback Jameis Winston (5) and defensive back P.J. Williams (26) and defensive end Chris Casher (21) celebrate after the game. The Florida State Seminoles defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 37-35 at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY SportsFlorida State’s winning streak started with a 21-15 win over Georgia Tech in the 2012 ACC title game.<!–iframe–>last_img read more

Brighton and Brentford in talks over Maupay

first_imgEmbed from Getty Images Brentford are in talks with Brighton over a potential deal for Neal Maupay to join the south-coast club.Striker Maupay, 22, was recently given time off by Brentford amid interest from Premier League clubs. The Frenchman has not featured during pre-season.Brighton have long been monitoring the situation, while West Ham, Sheffield United and Aston Villa are also interested in the player.AdChoices广告Brentford are demanding at least £20m for Maupay, who scored 28 goals for them last season.The Bees have noted that financially troubled Birmingham City sold striker Che Adams to Southampton for a reported £15m.Brentford, on the other hand, do not need to sell so feel they can hold out for significantly more than that amount.They have already banked sizeable transfer fees for several players in recent years, including the recent sales of Ezri Konsa to Aston Villa and goalkeeper Daniel Bentley to Bristol City, as well as Chris Mepham’s January move to Bournemouth, so are in a position to play hardball.There is also a belief that Maupay’s market value will increase further by the time the January transfer window opens if he stays at Brentford and continues his prolific form during the first half of the coming season.He was signed from St Etienne in 2017 and is under contract at Griffin Park until 2021.Click here to subscribe to West London Sport’s YouTube channel See also:Bees turn down £6.5m offer for CanosValencia completes £1.8m move to BrentfordFrank hopes to keep Brentford stars as deadline approachesMaupay completes £20m Brighton movecenter_img Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

V’Ball Coach, Ajayi, Vows to Make History with Tokyo Olympics Qualifier

first_imgNigeria senior women’s volleyball team The NSCDC coach expressed confidence that the players assembled will live up to expectation.He said, “Nigeria is going to the qualifiers not for vacation but serious business. This current team wants to make history by qualifying for the first ever Olympics.“If you look at the final list, you will see that the team is filled up with players who performed well at the 2019 Nigeria Volleyball Premier League and I am confident that they will live up to expectation by pick the sole ticket.”He further said, “The players resumed camping in the first week of December and since then have undergone rigorous and technical trainings. The team also reflected on the performance at the 2019 African Games and worked on some little flaws noticed.“The team has the combination of top players from top clubs in the country including the Most Valuable Player, Ijeoma Ukpabi; the best spiker, Albertina Francis; best setter, Sharon Achi; best defender, Jummai Bitrus and others”.The NSCDC gaffer said, “The NVBF President, Engineer Musa Nimrod has not stopped supporting us. If not for his tremendous support, it would have been almost impossible to participate. Since he came on board few years ago, volleyball has been on the rise and at a different level completely.”The final list comprises 10 home-based and two foreign-based players namely; Sharon Achi (NSCDC), Esther Ahua (Nigeria Customs Service), Ijeoma Ukpabi (COAS Spikers), Happy Washilang (NSCDC), Mesomachi Ugochinyere (Japanese club), Rafiat Mustafa (Nigeria Immigration Service), Theresa Okonmah (NSCDC/Captain), Sandra Ozabor (NSCDC), Eunice Stephen (Nigeria Customs Service), Deborah Oyiku (Japanese Club), Albertina Francis (NSCDC) and Jummai Bitrus (NSCDC)Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram The Head Coach of the Nigeria senior women’s volleyball team, Samuel Ajayi, has said that he wants to make history by qualifying for Tokyo 2020 Olympics.Nigeria will compete alongside Egypt, Kenya, Botswana and host Cameroon from 2nd to 10thJanuary, 2020 for the sole African ticket.The team will jet out tonight out with 12 players, two coaches, the Secretary General and one referee.last_img read more

Henry Cavill not ready to give up playing Superman

first_imgThe cape is in the closet,” Cavill tells Men’s Health in its December cover story. “It’s still mine.”I’ve not given up the role,” he continues . “There’s a lot I have to give for Superman yet. A lot of storytelling to do. A lot of real, true depths to the honest of the character I wasn’t to get into.”“I want to reflect the comic books. That’s important to me,” adds Cavill.  “There’s a lot of justice to be done for Superman. The status is: You’ll see.In the issue, Cavill also recalls being turned down for the role of James Bond in 2006’s Casino Royale because of his weight.“Looking a little chubby there, Henry,” Cavill recalls director Martin Campbell telling him at the audition.“I didn’t know how to train or diet,” he admits. “And I’m glad Martin said something, because I respond well to truth. It helps me get better.” And added, “It’s terrifying going into auditions. You put your hand in a dark hole and just hope that something comes out. It’s not like being fast or strong, or being good at football. Sometimes the acting is just bad.”Cavill will next be seen in The Witcher, premiering December 21 on Netflix.Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. Netflix(NEW YORK) — Despite reports that Henry Cavill won’t return as Superman in any future Warner Bros. movies, he insists his run as the Man of Steel is not over yet.last_img read more