Judge Scott DuPont’s case will proceed to the Florida Supreme Court.
The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission has recommended that Circuit 7 Judge Scott DuPont be removed from the bench over a series of alleged ethical breaches.
DuPont filed an appeal April 30 contesting the charges. The case next heads to the Florida Supreme Court for a ruling.
DuPont, who was recently re-elected to his position as a Sevent Circuit Court judge, has been charged by the Judicial Qualifications Commission with having “abused his position and showed himself to be unfit” by, among other charges, ordering a bailiff to search a man accused of being behind on child support, then take cash from the man’s wallet to pay it; conducting bond hearings without defendants’ counsel present; stating improperly during a televised forum that it is not the role of a circuit judge to determine the constitutionality of statutes, because that would be “legislating from the bench”; intentionally violating judicial campaign rules by spreading false information about his opponent and his opponent’s family members; and prioritizing campaigning over the lawful performance of his duties, according to a Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission document filed April 11.
“Judge DuPont’s testimony to the FJQC was, at times, not worthy of belief,” the FJQC document states. “The FJQC findings, the law, and the expectations of the public mandate that he is presently unfit to serve.”
In a response to the FJQC allegations, DuPont’s legal team stated that the false information on DuPont’s opponent had been supplied by DuPont’s campaign staff, and that DuPont believed “that the information ... was accurate.”
Of the incident in which he ordered money taken from a man’s wallet to pay for child support, DuPont’s response states that the man “initially stated that he had no money,” then DuPont ordered him searched. There was $180 in his pocket, which the man said he was holding for someone else.
“Certainly, a reasonable person can understand why Judge Dupont acted in the manner in which he did, given the respondent’s lack of candor,” the response states. It adds that other area judges, including one of DuPont’s mentors, had used similar methods.
As to DuPont’s remark during the forum that determining the constitutionality of statutes would be legislating from the bench, DuPont “misspoke.”
DuPont’s legal response acknowledges that DuPont had erred by starting hearings early without counsel present.