Florida Judge Who Ran Her Christian Ministry from the Courthouse May Soon Be Kicked Out of Office

Judith Hawkins (below) is a county judge in Tallahassee, Florida who doesn’t seem to care much about the law. That would explain why she used her government position to advance her religious ministry.

Hawkins is the founder of Gaza Road Ministries and she ran the company from the Leon County Courthouse. She also attempted to sell her ministry’s books to lawyers appearing in front of her. And it just gets worse from there:

[Judicial Qualifications Commission] Hearing Panel Chair James A. Ruth wrote Hawkins was guilty of deleting subpoenaed financial records or her ministry, misleading investigators during depositions and refusing to turn over material without an official order.

The JQC also found Hawkins guilty of posting images of her wearing judicial robes on her ministry website, failing to comply with tax law, reading magazines during court proceedings and using less than her full time for judicial duties.

She also had her judicial assistant help her run the ministry but never reported that to taxing authorities. And check out this exchange:

On November 10, 2011, during a hearing in open court, an attorney appearing before Judge Hawkins mentioned, “Judge, I hear you have a new book out,” and requested an autographed copy… He heard about the book from one of the bailiffs… The judge, who was still on the bench, requested $15 dollars, told the attorney to pay her personally, and said “I’ll take it right now.”… The attorney offered, and Judge Hawkins accepted, an additional $5 more for her autograph… Judge Hawkins thanked the lawyer, said “I like your spirit” and asked him to “spread it amongst the others” because “[t]hese work for the State. I’m going to let you take the private Bar crowd.”

These allegations first came to light in December of 2012 and the case has been ongoing ever since.

Yesterday, the Florida Supreme Court correctly decided that Hawkins could no longer be a judge. The JQC had suggested she be suspended for 90 days and fined $17,000, but the state Supreme Court could now go even further if Hawkins doesn’t give them a good reason to reconsider:

On Monday, six justices of the Supreme Court — Justice Peggy Quince recused herself — said it considered the entire case and requires she “show cause why removal from office is not the appropriate sanction in this case.” The response from Hawkins is due to the court before Aug. 14.

It’s an unbelievable abdication of duty on Hawkins’ part. I guess we should be lucky that Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore wasn’t making the call on this one.

(Thanks to Stepheni for the link)

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