For the first time in more than 20-years, a sitting judge in the Seventh Judicial Circuit has been removed from the bench by the Chief Judge and a Judicial Qualifications Commission recommendation has been made that Judge Scott DuPont is not fit for judicial service.
On November 23, 2016, the Investigative Panel of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission filed a notice of formal charges against Judge DuPont; amended August 16, 2017. The panel conducted its final hearing on December 11-12, 2017.
It was unknown at the time Historic City News reported February 17, 2018, whether the Seventh Judicial Circuit would take any action independent of whatever final action will be taken by the Florida Supreme Court.
We found out on Friday when Chief Judge Raul A. Zambrano instructed DuPont to clear any “personal belongings from the offices” and only gave him until Monday, February 26, 2018 to do it.
If that were not clear enough to anyone still wondering if Judge DuPont is likely to return to the bench, Zambrano also instructed DuPont that he had until Monday to “surrender all your keys and remote control access to the parking facilities”.
According to Lauri Waldman Ross, Esquire; counsel to the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, the panel concluded that Judge DuPont’s conduct, taken as a whole, “is fundamentally inconsistent with the responsibilities of judicial office.”
The allegations against DuPont and confirmed by the panel include:
- recklessly posted false or misleading information about an opponent and his family on a website created by his judicial campaign in a contested 2016 election
- made false or misleading statements at a televised judicial forum that his opponent was ticketed for passing a school bus while it was loading or unloading children, and he had cheated during a Volusia County straw poll
- announced at the same judicial forum that it was not the role of a circuit judge to determine the constitutionality of statutes, because this would be “legislating from the bench”
- made unspecified personal attacks on his opponent at a 2010 judicial campaign
- presided over a hearing when one side was unavailable due to a traffic accident, and the other side was present in City of Palm Coast, Florida v. The Group Golf of Palm Coast, LLC, Flagler County Case No 2016-CA-000639
- held first appearance hearings around his campaign schedule, conducted these earlier than noticed, without counsel present, and significantly increased bonds at such hearings
- held the victim of a domestic violence case in contempt, ordering her indefinitely incarcerated, unless she and her child underwent psychological evaluations
- ordered a deputy sheriff to search and seize the valuables of a party appearing before him in a domestic matter, when that party asserted an inability to pay support
The Florida Supreme Court is responsible for making a final decision in this matter.