Posted: 11:02 am Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
By George Mathis
The U.S. Justice system has its flaws, but one flawed judge has been disrobed.
Reuters tells us the Florida Supreme Court disbarred former Broward Circuit Judge Ana Gardiner for having a personal relationship with the prosecutor during a death penalty trial in which she sentenced a man to death.
According to an investigation, Gardiner, while hearing a 2007 murder trial, happened to run across prosecutor assistant state attorney Howard Scheinberg at a restaurant. She proceeded to have drinks with him.
Between March 23, several days before a jury returned a guilty verdict against murder suspect Omar Loureiro, and Aug. 24, when Gardiner sentenced Loureiro to death, Gardiner and Scheinberg exchanged 949 cell phone calls and 471 text messages. That means she called Scheinberg more than six times a day, according to my poor math.
There’s no hard evidence of hanky-panky but the last time I called someone that often I married them.
Gardiner initially denied any involvement with Scheinberg but later admitted an “emotional relationship.”
She resigned in 2010, after 11 years as a judge, and was ordered to pay $8,117.18 in court costs. The Supreme Court suspended Scheinberg from practice for two years. He is now working as a paralegal.
Loureiro got a new trial and was sentenced to life in prison. Last year, an appeals court granted him another new trial.
How did the judge’s relationship with the prosecutor come to light?
An elected official, Sunrise Commissioner Sheila Alu, was at the table with Gardiner and Scheinberg as they enjoyed adult beverages at the Ft. Lauderdale martini bar where they first formed their friendship.
A BrowardPalmBeach.com article says “Alu remembers Gardiner and Scheinberg talking about a murder case. They laughed about it, saying the people involved were gay. They talked about how a juror had fainted at the trial after being shown a particularly gruesome photograph of the victim’s gaping neck wound.”
We could use more politicians like Alu, who eventually told her story to the press.
We can use fewer judges like Gardiner, who can no longer practice law.
She was able to find love again, however. During her disbarment trial she married her defense attorney and is now vacationing in Europe.
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About the Author
News to Me is a blog (not a news article) written Monday-Friday and any other day George finds spare time to do such a thing. George has been a local news editor with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution since 1999. Earlier attempts at journalism included stops in Valdosta, Cordele and Tifton. A lifelong resident of Georgia, he was raised in Berrien County. He’s fond of guitars, homemade beer and finding interesting news nuggets on the wire, Internet and Twitter.