Fla. Judge Fired After Jailing Traffic Defendants
Talk about intemperate, this may take the cake.
A judge who jailed 11 people because they were late for traffic court after being directed to the wrong courtroom lost his job Thursday, as the state Supreme Court ruled he was unfit to remain on the bench.
In a unanimous decision, the court said the jailing and strip-searching of the 11 motorists capped a series of conduct complaints against Seminole County Judge John Sloop, 57.
"Judge Sloop's indifference to the anxiety, humiliation and hardship imposed upon these 11 citizens reflects a callous disregard for others that is among the most egregious examples we have seen of abuse of judicial authority and lack of proper judicial temperament," the high court wrote in an unsigned opinion.
The 11 had gone to court on citations ranging from driving with a suspended license to having an illegal tag. Sloop jailed the misdirected motorists although two other judges and a bailiff had told him they were not to blame.
Judge Sloop understands what he did wrong, and blames it on attention deficit disorder.
Sloop admitted he violated judicial canons. He blamed his behavior on undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and said he has since received treatment.
He expressed no bitterness over his removal, saying he joined the justices in hoping his removal would help restore public confidence in the judicial system.
"I spent my life helping people understand they are responsible for their actions," Sloop said. "I am responsible for the grievous things that I did."
Maybe they should have a temperance test for judicial nominees. Except, I suspect, most judicial nominees would pass because the intemperance and bad judgment likely develops only after extensive exposure to the reality of life in the trenches of the courtroom.
A more effective test would be a Survivor-type challenge where the newbie judges are thrown into the trenches of war and graded on how they endured. Criminal courts are no different than war trenches. From our perspective, the prosecutor often is the enemy with the most power, the defense counsel is the good guy, trying to make sure the prosecutor doesn't unilaterally decide to abuse his power, and the Judge is there as a referee. When the judge wigs out, you can bet there is some serious flaw in the system.
Added: Yes, this is hyperbole.
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