As a defendant accused of a criminal offense, you want to believe that the judge in your case will be impartial and will give you the same rights afforded everyone in this country. Facing serious criminal charges can do irreparable damage to you reputation both professionally and personally, so you and your attorney want to mount the best criminal defense possible to clear your name.
Unfortunately, judges are human and criminal courts are as fallible as the people who run them, so getting a fair shake can be difficult at times. Never has this been more evident than in a Florida courtroom June 2. Audio and video evidence shows the judge engage in a verbal altercation with a public defender in which he threatens to throw a rock at him and beat him physically. The fracas escalates and the judge asks the defender to step into the hallway. That’s when things get weird.
According to witnesses, the two walked into the hallway — and off camera — where the judge allegedly beat the public defender. He then returns to the bench and the dazed defendant, now without a lawyer, is left to represent himself in court. The judge then sets a trial date that only allows the defense four days to prepare their case.
It begs the question — would you like to be next on the docket against this judge? Can he possibly maintain his impartiality after an outburst like this? Can he be trusted to not retaliate against this public defender’s other clients?
So far, the judge has faced no reprimand or fine for his behavior, though he has taken a leave of absence. Cases like this one underline the importance of having a qualified and determined attorney at your side to make sure your rights are upheld.
Source: floridatoday.com, “Matt Reed: You can't do that, your honor,” Matt Reed, June 2, 2014