Florida Watchdog by John Haughey
August 31, 2018
The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) is a 15-member panel established by the Florida Constitution in 1966 to investigate alleged misconduct by judges and make disciplinary recommendations to the state Supreme Court.
In 2017, the JQC received 593 complaints of judicial misconduct, spurring investigations that, thus far in 2018, have led to the resignations or removals of four South Florida judges.
But Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court nixed two JQC confidentiality proposals designed to shield judges under investigation from having medical, psychological and “personal” information disclosed after a finding of probable cause and the filing of a formal complaint – a professional courtesy not extended to those who come before them.
“This [Supreme] Court does not question that the commission’s attempt to protect such sensitive medical and personal information from public view is made with good intentions,” the decision said. “However, this court must repeal the confidentiality amendments because neither the commission nor its panels have authority to designate filings in this court confidential under [judicial administration rules] or the Florida Constitution, and the commission does not have authority to adopt a rule of procedure purporting to grant such authority.”