The Trouble with Biased Judges in Florida Divorces
The right to a fair trial is a fundamental part of a democratic society. The judicial branch of the United States government was set up specifically so you would not have to worry about a despot shouting, “Off with your head!” before you even got a chance to speak. Unfortunately, not everyone gets a fair trial, but if the judge issues an unfair ruling in your case, whether in civil or criminal court, you have the right to appeal the judgment. Furthermore, if it is obvious, while your case is ongoing, that the judge’s prejudices will prevent him or her from being impartial in deciding the case, you have the right to request a different judge. Racism, sexism, and personal conflicts are just some of the reasons that parties in lawsuits request to have their cases transferred to a different judge. If you are concerned about the judge’s biases in your divorce case, contact a South Florida divorce lawyer.
When the Court’s Decision in Your Divorce Leaves You Wondering what the Judge Was Smoking
When Neal and Laine Moskowitz got divorced in 2007, one of the issues that contributed to the breakdown of their marriage and caused disagreements over post-divorce finances was Laine’s drug use, or so Neal alleged. Since unfounded allegations about drug use have no place in a divorce court’s decision, Neal repeatedly requested that the court require Laine undergo a medical evaluation in order to make findings about her drug use, but the judge always refused. That was only the first of Neal’s indications that the judge was biased against Neal. For example, he made remarks during questioning of witnesses that indicated that he planned to leave Neal destitute in his decision about division property.
The final straw came when the judge was arrested for smoking marijuana in a public park and charged with a criminal misdemeanor. (This was more than a decade ago; today, in many parts of Florida, smoking marijuana in public will not always get you criminal charges.) Neal formally requested a new judge, but the original judge signed the final order of dissolution of marriage while his criminal case was still pending. Neal appealed the decision all the way to the Florida Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that the judge’s behavior indicated a clear pattern of prejudice against Neal. Its ruling stated that the criminal charges against the judge were not, by themselves, a reason to remove him from the Moskowitz case, since the judge, like all defendants, has the right to the presumption of innocence.
The Supreme Court ordered that a new judge be appointed to the case. The new judge would have the discretion to rely on any of the proceedings from the first trial or to start the case over from the beginning.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
Representation by a lawyer is an important part of a fair trial, in a divorce or any other kind of legal case. Contact our Boca Raton divorce lawyers at Schwartz | White for help today.