Report Released on Judge Who Had Private Communications with Prosecutor During Death Penalty Trial: Result, Suspension
The Report has been released in the disciplinary proceeding involving former Broward County, Florida judge Ana Gardiner (see our earlier post for details) and you can read the report in its entirety at Terry Lenamon's Online Library.
Here's a key paragraph from the Report, which results in a recommendation that the former trial judge receive a one year suspension of her Florida law license:
The Respondent's failure to disclose her social encounter with the
prosecutor, the significant emotional relationship that developed during the
pendency of the trial, and her extensive telephone and text message
communications tainted the entire legal process. The Respondent's argument that
there were no discussions about the trial, only an appearance of impropriety and no
reversible error in the trial misses the point. Due process embodies the
fundamental concept of fairness, and "especially in a death penalty case, [the
proceedings] must both be and appear to be fundamentally fair. Steinhorst v. State,
636 So.2d 498, 501 (Fla. 1994). [Emphasis supplied.] The public's perception of
fairness and impartiality of the judiciary is the bedrock of our legal system.