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Email To Attorney Could Lead To Discipline Of Broward Judge

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - A Broward County circuit judge could face disciplinary action after a series of events that stemmed from an email to an assistant public defender.

The state Judicial Qualifications Commission, which investigates possible wrongdoing by judges, found probable cause for charges against Broward Circuit Judge John Contini.

The issue started with a March 16th email sent by Contini sent to an assistant public defender and later disclosed to prosecutors. The email, which included a sentencing order from another court, was viewed by prosecutors as an offer by Contini of research and drafting assistance to the public defender's office. As a result, the state sought a disqualification against Contini and ultimately took the issue to the 4th District Court of Appeal, according to the filings this week.

During the appeal, a stay was placed on hundreds of cases.

"As a result, many of the cases before your (Contini's) division were effectively frozen, and defendants who were incarcerated had to remain behind bars because you were unable to make any rulings or determinations in their case,'' the Judicial Qualifications Commission said.

The commission also alleged that Contini violated judicial canons "by exhibiting discourteous, impatient, and undignified conduct during in-court discussions" of the appeal. In part, Contini is alleged to have described a position of the Attorney General's Office, which handled the appeal, as a "lie from the pit of hell," according to the filings.

The Supreme Court has the ultimate authority in deciding whether to discipline judges.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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