Monday, December 15, 2008

Florida Judge being Investigated for Inappropriate Conduct

A Florida judge is being investigated amid complaints that he has behaved inappropriately in the courtroom. Judge Ralph Eriksson is accused of punishing people for exercising their legal rights. According to testimony, Ericksson denied defendants their legal rights and was vindictive. Daniel Bradshaw appeared before the judge in the past took the stand on Monday to tell a special panel how the judge treated him. Bradshaw said Eriksson blew up on the stand during his case two years ago and then sent him to jail for five months. "I mean, he just went boom. I asked, 'Can you repeat yourself?' All of a sudden he said, 'Haven't you heard a word I said yet? How do you wish to plea?' I said, 'Not guilty.' 'Well, I'm going to send you to jail anyway,'" Bradshaw said. The state's Judicial Qualifications Commission is listening to testimony and reviewing video to see how has treated defendants. Video from Bradshaw's April 2006 court appearance shows his attorney asking Eriksson to repeat himself and Ericksson shouting back. Bradshaw asked Ericksson about a motion to suppress evidence in his case and Eriksson responded by giving Bradshaw a $5,000 bond and sending him to jail. An expert witness for the state said this review is about Eriksson's actions. "I thought the conduct was shocking, inappropriate, non judicial, very unprofessional, vindictive, punitive, and we could go on and on. There is simply no basis for what the judge did," expert witness Jeffrey Weiner said. The judge's defense attorney, Chandler Muller, said the expert witness did not look at the actual video until about an hour before his deposition was taken. He also said the judge did not abuse his power. "The record's going to show that we have a fine judge that's served this community for many years in a very fair way and he has a lot of support," Muller said. Eriksson has been a county judge for 13 years. After hearing all the testimony, the Judicial Qualifications Commission will make a recommendation to the Florida Supreme Court. In the meantime, Eriksson has not been suspended from his position.

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