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Broward Judge Caught On Hot Mic Telling Prosecutors
UPDATE–After seeing the video, Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein sent a letter to Chief Judge Jack Tuter about the incident. Click Here to Read
Broward Judge Caught On Hot Mic Telling Prosecutors-I Double The Bond For Crimes Near My Home
Broward County judge Joel Lazarus, was caught on a “Hot Mic” fifteen minutes before he presided over Friday’s morning session of magistrate, or first appearance/bond court, stating to prosecutors:
“I double the bonds, for those that take place in my neighborhood”.
The judge then goes on to say:
“The closer to my house, the higher the bond. That’s always been Lazarus’s rule.”
An unknown prosecutor responded with;“I have no problem with that formula.” and; “You know what they say, location, location, location.”
We say “Hot Mic”, because we don’t believe the judge knew the system was actually broadcasting at the time he made the statement to prosecutors in open court.
The still pictures from the same day and judge below show a little more about what we mean.
In the first still, if you look on the left of the judge, there is a small translucent sign that will be lit to make the judge aware that the system is live.
As you can see here and in the video, the sign is not lit up.
A little later during the hearings, when everyone knows the system should be live, the sign is lit.
We also say he was talking to prosecutors because you can hear one of the voices in the conversation state that “Michael Horowitz, from his office”, will be handling a case. Michael Horowitz works for the state attorneys office.
So What’s The Big Deal?
The big deal is according to the first two “Canons” of The Florida Code Of Judicial Conduct, the judge is not allowed to even say what he said.
The Florida Code Of Judicial Conduct are the rules governing what a judge is allowed, and not allowed to do.
Every appointed judge, and anyone wanting to put their name on the ballot to run for judicial office, is required to read and sign a copy of it, stating they fully understand it.
The first Canon reads:
A Judge Shall Uphold the Integrity And Independence of the Judiciary
An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. A judge should participate in establishing, maintaining, and enforcing high standards of conduct, and shall personally observe those standards so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved. The provisions of this Code should be construed and applied to further that objective.
A Judge Shall Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in all of the Judge’s Activities
A. A judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
B. A judge shall not allow family, social, political or other relationships to influence the judge’s judicial conduct or judgment. A judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others; nor shall a judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. A judge shall not testify voluntarily as a character witness.
C. A judge should not hold membership in an organization that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin. Membership in a fraternal, sororal, religious, or ethnic heritage organization shall not be deemed to be a violation of this provision.
To the complete Code, 7 Canons, CLICK HERE.
Self proclaimed “celebrity” Judge Joel T. Lazarus, who in the past has been involved in several high profile” court cases, including the “Willet’s Sex Scandal”, “Teenager Convicted to Life in Prison” , “Dismissing Corruption
Charges Against a Local Government Official” and most recently was in the news in 2013, for “Talking Down a Man with a Gun” in the courthouse who was intent upon suicide, despite that the Judge was on the floor above where the incident was happening, he took it upon himself to intervene, has now shown he has a problem remaining impartial, and seems to feel a sense of special entitlement.
This is not a surprise. His past judgments and political activity have created a biased series of outspoken opinions, including his past ” Tea Party Styled” attacks in his version of an anti-immigration and anti-Obamacare mailing that he sent out to all the Broward County Judicial members.
Judge Lazarus has even gone so far into his believing his own “celebrity status” as to, comment in interaction with TV actor “Larry the Cable Guy”, all of which caused doubt as to his ability for objectivity in court.
This new “Hot Mic ” incident seems to show the judge hasn’t changed over the years.
During his previous term, Judge Lazarus was feeling that his position could be replaced by previous Florida Governor Charlie Crist, so the judge made a point to finish out his term rather than allow the governor to appoint a Judge of his choice, but Lazarus did then retire in 2010.
However, following the election of current Governor Rick Scott, then retired Judge Lazarus, who favored Scott in the election, was returned in 2012 to preside on foreclosure cases in Broward County Court.
Maybe someone in the Broward Public Defenders office will file a complaint with The Florida Judicial Qualification Commission, but we wont hold our breath for that.
It doesn’t seem a whole lot of those entrusted to serve the public in Broward County actually do.
It would seem they only serve themselves.