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Porn Judge Named To Appeals Panel

CLEARWATER, Fl—After Sixth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Brandt Downey III admitted to viewing pornographic web sites from his judicial computer, many residents thought he should have been immediately removed from the bench.

Not only is he being allowed to finish out his term, but chief judge David Demers has in essence rewarded Downey for his misconduct and appointed him to a panel for the next six months which reviews civil appeals even after his judgment and demeanor has become an issue before the Florida Supreme Court.

Last week, the Supreme Court approved a stipulation involving Downey and will publicly reprimand him in September. Downey has issued a public apology saying that his actions harmed the “public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary”.

Nevertheless, Demers gave him the new post.

Although justices were annoyed that the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission had dismissed several allegations involving Downey’s alleged sexual harassment of female attorneys who had appeared before him in court case, rather than immediately removing Downey from the bench, they allowed him to retain his position until the end of his term on Jan. 1, 2007 at which time he will retire. He will not be able to serve as a senior judge and can’t seek reappointment or election as a judge.

There are numerous other judges in the circuit which could have been appointed to the three judge panel which reviews appeals of civil cases in Clearwater. Demers says he sees nothing wrong with it, saying that “it seemed essentially disconnected from anything having to do with his recent difficulties”.

Downey, who had volunteered for the position, seems unfazed by the JQC and Supreme Court ruling. Other judges have criticized Demer’s actions, saying that there were other more qualified judges that could have been appointed that don’t have the public baggage of Downey.

According to a 2005 study conducted by the Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender’s office, since 2000, Downey has been reversed in 72 cases, more than any other Pinellas criminal judge. With such a record, it seems implausible for him to sit on a panel to consider appeals. Public defender Bob Dillinger said that there were other choices that could have been made to gain more public confidence in the judiciary

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