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Broward Circuit Judge Dale Cohen Accused Of Misconduct
Broward Circuit Judge Dale Cohen was accused by The Judicial Qualifications Commission of exploiting his position to further his interests and those of his wife, who is running for election to the county bench.
February 27, 2010 Judge Dale Cohen
The charges stem from an incident in which Cohen called his wife, Mardi Anne Levey Cohen, to testify in his courtroom about a request for the judge to step down from handling an unrelated criminal case.
This started when Fort Lauderdale Defense attorney Stephen Melnick filed a recusal motion.
Melnick claimed the judge had a conflict of interest because the attorney was involved in litigation against Cohen’s wife, Mardi Levey Cohen, when she ran unsuccessfully against Circuit Judge Pedro Dijols in 2008. Attorney William Scherer represented Dijols in a dispute over the name she wanted on the ballot, and Melnick, a Dijols supporter, conferred with Scherer before the lawsuit was filed.
Rather than approve the disqualification motion, Cohen scheduled the hearing and called his wife as a witness. The JQC charged the judge’s goal was to intimidate and embarrass Melnick.
Cohen eventually granted Melnick’s motion, but the way he handled it, the Judicial Qualifications Commission said, showed “a continuing pattern of judicial misconduct.”
“Your purpose in holding the hearing was to intimidate Mr. Melnick, and in doing so you used the courtroom and the power of your office to advance the interests of you and your wife,” the commission’s attorneys wrote to Cohen. “Your conduct was an abuse of your judicial power, an abuse of your office and was an improper use of your office for personal gain.”
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