TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016
The Florida Supreme Court suspended a Miami-Dade County judge after two incidents last month in which she appeared impaired while on the bench.
In one incident she had to be removed from the bench and driven home by court staff.
She could not remember where she lived, according to that staff.
An order issued suspended Judge Jacqueline Schwartz with pay, according to the Supreme Court’s website.
The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission recommended the suspension to the Florida Supreme Court.
The allegations against Schwartz came four months after she was disciplined by the Supreme Court for a 2014 incident in which she was accused of using profanity and threatening to sue a convenience-store owner who would not allow her to display a campaign sign at the store.
In this new case, an investigative panel of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission said Schwartz was observed “acting in an irrational and disorderly manner” on March 18th at a Coconut Grove restaurant.
One of the JQC documents said Schwartz was observed to be impaired, spilling a glass of wine on herself, and pouring water on the floor of the restaurant while attempting to refill a water glass. Restaurant Staff also observed Judge Schwartz to be unsteady on her feet, swaying, stumbling, slurring her words, and having twitching eyes.
When the restaurant staff decided that they should no longer serve wine to Schwartz, she became irate, and began yelling and swearing at the restaurant staff in full view of the restaurant guests.
”You are a f---ing idiot, you don’t know who I am,” County Judge Jacqueline Schwartz yelled at a waiter at the restaurant after she was refused more alcohol, according to a Judicial Qualifications Commission report released on Monday. It also quotes the judge calling police officers “pigs” who couldn’t do anything to her because she was a judge, when they were dispatched to the restaurant on March 18.
The incident was reported to the Judicial Qualifications Commission on March 21st. A week later, the investigative panel said, Schwartz appeared impaired while presiding over a criminal traffic docket. The chief judge became involved and sent her home, with the assistance of a bailiff who drove Schwartz’s car.
During a hearing, Schwartz said her conduct was because of a prescription medication she had started taking, according to the documents.
Then 10 days later, according to the JQC investigation, Schwartz appeared impaired again while on the bench at the South Dade Courthouse. “Court personnel, litigants and police officers waiting to testify observed that you were unsteady on your feet, slurring your words and unable to concentrate,” the commission wrote to Schwartz. Chief Judge Bertila Soto ordered she go home.
Schwartz insisted she could drive herself, but her bailiff took her. The JQC revealed that she could not remember her address.
The Supreme Court has the ultimate authority to discipline judges. In December, Schwartz received a public reprimand from the Supreme Court.
They also imposed a $10,000 fine on the judge and suspended her from the bench for 30 days.
“This is misconduct we cannot and will not tolerate,” said Chief Justice Jorge Labarga during the December hearing.
Along with allegations about the 2014 convenience-store incident, Schwartz also was accused of improperly handling papers in a court file.
The News Service of Florida last year found that the number of judges facing sanctions had jumped and that the high court was more often seeking harsher penalties than those originally proposed by the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
The Judge will face the equivalent of a public trial before the Judicial Qualifications Commission in Miami-Dade County.
The commission will then recommend a punishment to the Florida Supreme Court.
Monday July 18, 2016
In a surprising move, Miami-Dade County Court Judge Jacqueline Schwartz
informed Governor Scott that she is resigning from the bench. Rather than face
continued scrutiny by the Florida Supreme Court, and an ongoing investigation
by the JQC, which is in the midst of its inquiry into her most recent actions
while on, and off, the bench, Schwartz chose to end the case, and her judicial
Schwartz and her attorney reached an agreement with the JQC whereby she would issue a written apology and be publicly reprimanded before the Florida Supreme Court.
But, the Florida Supreme Court rejected that resolution. Finally, in April of 2015, Schwartz agreed to not only issuing the formal letter of apology, and the public reprimand, but also to a 30 day suspension and a fine of $10,000. The public reprimand took place on December 9, 2015. It didn't take long for Schwartz to step out of line yet again.
On March 18, 2016, at the Ergon Greek Restaurant, Schwartz was “acting in an
irrational and disorderly manner,” slurring and spilling wine, according to
a report. Miami paramedics and police were called to the scene and she told
them they “couldn’t do anything” to her because she is a judge. She continued
her tirade: “You are a f---ing idiot, you don’t know who I am,” she yelled at a
waiter after she was refused more alcohol, according to a state investigative
report. The report also quoted the judge calling police officers “pigs” when
they were summoned to the restaurant to investigate.
Ten days later, on March 28th, while sitting on the bench, according to a JQC
Report on the matter:
“Court personnel, litigants and police officers waiting to testify observed that
you were unsteady on your feet, slurring your words and unable to
concentrate,”. Chief Judge Bertila Soto ordered she go home. Schwartz insisted
she could drive herself, but her bailiff ultimately took her. The investigation
revealed that she could not remember her own address.
The JQC opened their newest investigation into Judge Schwartz' latest antics on
April 18th, issuing new formal charges. The following day, on April 19th, the
Florida Supreme Court issued an emergency Order that stated, in part:
"Judge Jacqueline Schwartz is hereby immediately suspended from office with
pay pending disposition of this proceeding. The parties shall file simultaneous responses as to why Judge Schwartz should not be suspended without pay pending disposition of this proceeding"
On June 30, 2016, the Florida Supreme Court issued a new ruling, stating:
"Having considered the parties' responses and the applicable law, the
suspension of Judge Schwartz shall remain with pay pending disposition of
Surprisingly, Schwartz chose to resign rather than continue her battle to retain
her job. She was represented throughout the JQC proceedings by attorney
The resignation is effective as of July 31, 2016.
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