December 04, 2016
A month ago, November 10th, the Florida Supreme Court announced
they will be scheduling a "Public Reprimand" for the judge concerning his
conduct in the current matter before Judicial Qualifications Commission.
The Supreme Court in a rare decision, decided to cut the judge some slack and
go along with the recomendations of JQC. This is rare.
To read the Supreme Courts decision... Click Here.
The Supreme Court lately has been rejecting the JQC's recomendations and
imposing even harsher sanctions against wayward judges, usually removing,
(firing them) from the bench.
He was also moved from the criminal court bench to the family court
because prosecutors feared he could not remain impartial.
Needless to say, the judge must know how lucky he was.
The Supreme Court may end up regretting that decision as a new complaint was filed last month with The Florida Judicial Qualification Commission (JQC), concerning his conduct in a family court case.
In mid November a pro-se litigant in the family court filed a complaint with the Florida JQC accusing the judge of ignoring several state statutes in a recent order, and amoung the allegations; the judge gave legal advice to one side in the case without the other side knowing. (Ex-Parte communications).
Ex-Parte communications are what the judge is in trouble for in an earlier JQC complaint filed by county prosecutors last year. Click Here to view.
A Pro-Se litigant is a person representing themselves without counsel.
Amanda Sullivan of Weston filed the complaint with the JQC.
She then contacted South Florida Corruption.com:
I don't have any problem having my name disclosed.
Date: Nov 26, 2016 10:23 AM
Subject: Contini JQC Complaint
To whom it may concern,
I felt a civic obligation to report a recent incident with a case involving my young daughter. Details can be seen in the complaint itself.
I may need a follow up to this complaint as the Petitioner (xxxxx) upon receiving this order from Contini filed a motion for contempt exactly 10 days following Contini's order. I believe and I'm sure we will be able to confirm Dec 2nd that it was Contini who instructed "his client" to do this but his client never bothered to ask, attempt to arrange, or even intimate a desire to have visitation. We have the hearing to vacate Contini's order Dec 2nd. The new Judges willingness to hear this so quickly gives me hope that justice will be restored and my daughter and I will be safe again.
I hope that you can view the photo images of the complaint as my scanner is not working properly. The JQC replied back to me that they received the complaint and will review it within 6 weeks.
After recieving a text of an order signed by judge Contini on November 03, 2016, she was in shock because she was unaware of any hearing, having never being noticed of one, and also the fact that his order purported to over-rule an order made by another judge, (Dennis Bailey), modifying a "Saftey Focused Parenting Plan" the Bailey court had set in place.
She then sent this email to us:
Bailey established the Parenting Plan in the Paternity case 7/31/15. The case sat with nothing happening for 17 months, meanwhile xxxxx refused to have visitation, call, or have anything to do with my daughter.
From my understanding Contini was removed from criminal court and moved to Family court due to ethical violations and with it came cases like mine. So a motion by the court to dismiss apparently occurred and a hearing set 11/3/2016, of which I was not notified. At this hearing Contini apparently went rogue and decided to make this extralegal order. The law requires a motion to modify and material, substantial, and unanticipated change to qualify for a modification which clearly this does not. That is why I argue that even if my 5th and 14th Amendment rights had not been violated he still would not have authority to make this order, therefore making it extralegal.
Off the record: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
November 03, 2016 Order that caused the complaint to be filed.
As she addresses in her complaint Florida law does not allow for the modification of custody/visitation by motion. It requires a petition to modify and a change in circumstances not anticipated at the time of the order.
We are not lawyers at South Florida Corruption and nothing we say should ever be taken as legal advise, (DISCLAIMER).
Some of us though, have alot of experience as pro-se litigants in the family court and we can say none of us have ever seen such a trashy, scribbled out order from any judge in the family court, or any civil court proceeding in this county.
The order above looks like something a criminal court judge would write out quickly to send someone off to probation.
A few days later judge Contini recused himself from the case.
She then retained an attorney and filed a motion to vacate the above order made by judge Contini.
A hearing date was set for Decenber 02, 2016.
We don't have that order yet, but on December 02, we contacted her and recieved the followjng response:
On Dec 2, 2016 8:08 PM, <email@example.com> wrote:
What happened today?
She replied with:
It was like a 6 minute hearing, neither I nor my attorney said a word. The Judge just wanted to say she didn't stay the motion and went out of her way to get up early because this was an emergency hearing. She said Contini's order was "outside the scope of the hearing" that was held and that even if I had been noticed it wouldn't have been required for me to attend as the motion was for Dismissal because my ex did nothing for more than a year. She told my ex he he didn't pursue this the right way and that it wasn't his fault (she didn't specifically say it was Contini's but who else?). She vacated the order and told my attorney she wanted the order written today. She also said my ex's motion for contempt was "moot".
So basically what was expected.
Although the new judge did not directly comment on judge Contini, she did vacate his previous order and according to the Amanda, she stated that her ex didn't pursue this the right way and that it wasn't his fault.
That's part of her allegations against judge Contini. That the judge advised him to file a Motion for Contempt.
We at South Florida Corruption agree with her that the judges actions in this case were incompetent, irresponsible, and yes even dangerous.
As you will read in the actual complaint filed with the JQC by Amanda following this article, the petitioner had previously been convicted of a battery where the minor child was present and both witnessed and was INJURED in that battery.
If you read the above order you see that the judge was ordering her to turn the child over within ten days for a weekend UNSUPERVISED visit.
If the judge would have had his Judicial Assistant do even a little research on the case, we doubt he would have made that order.
Judge Contini came from the criminal court where mistakes like this are sometimes easily corrected with another hearing.
But in the family court mistakes like that can have devastating, and possibly deadly consequences.
The person the judge demanded this child be turned over to within ten days, according to court records, has "violent tendencies".
If something would have happened to this child, and we're not saying that something would have, how would the judge have fixed that.
We sincerely hope the JQC take these new allegations very seriously.
To the Chief Judge: Peter M. Weinstein:
The children and families of Broward County need and deserve the BEST judges hearing these cases in family court.
Some of the best civil trial layers in the state go into those court rooms.
By appointing inexperienced judges, especially ones with questionable ethics, to the family court, your asking for alot of trouble.
We know that judges have to be pretty much forced to go to the family court, but please stop using it as a dumping ground for judges you don't don't know what else to do with. If you're going to do that, at least put them in civil court where like the criminal, mistakes can "sometimes" be corrected with another hearing and more money.
Not to minimize the issue by saying "just money", we're sure the litigants spending it won't feel that way.
But the family court purports to be about the children. The family court should be, for reasons stated, a place for the best jurists that Broward County has to offer.
South Florida Corruption.com
Please find attached the JQC confirmation with docket number.
Whether Contini intentionally put my daughter and myself needlessly in danger isn't my concern. The Pet in this case has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, he doesn't have the capacity to tell the truth because he doesn't even know the truth himself. This guy works weekends 8-9 hours with an hour commute each way. Judge Bailey slammed the Pet request for weekends in the first court hearing because why take the child out of the only home they've known with their parent to be taken care of by ???? He couldn't even answer.
But this is why the law exists, this is why due process and equal treatment before the law exist because if Contini had followed the law I would have undoubtedly forced him to actually think about the Pet statements and demands with relevant evidence. Judge Bailey is smart, I barely had to say a word, and yes, Contini might be a little slow and need a little help but I would have helped him to understand had he given me the opportunity. Instead he went on all out attack mode like I've done something wrong when I haven't.
From my understanding John Contini filed (or had filed) a JQC Complaint about his opponent Judge Feren during the campaign process and made it public prior to JQC review. Unlike him, I don't have any motive or any concern except the safety of Broward County children.