BROWARD COUNTY, FL — A Florida judge presiding over misdemeanor drug cases reportedly showed up to work intoxicated and had to be removed from court. In a palpable irony, even a person who has dedicated her career toward meddling in other people’s lives and using the force of government against them is herself incapable of keeping herself sober at work. The judge faces no legal consequences and instead of being carted off to jail like so many of the recreational drug users she has dealt with, she will voluntarily put herself in rehab.
Judge Gisele Pollack, who founded Boward County’s misdemeanor drug court in 2005, was seen verbally assaulting her judicial assistant and yelling for her car keys to be returned before another judge intervened, according to an unidentified source.
The tirade followed Pollack’s abrupt dismissal of the day’s session after only serving an hour and a half on the bench, during which time she began slurring her words while addressing defendants.
One can only speculate how many cases Pollack, an admitted alcoholic, may have presided over while under the influence. She says she will address what she calls “health issues” during an intensive two week outpatient program before returning to the bench.
Not everyone in the legal community feels that’s quite an adequate remedy.
“Could you imagine doing a night in jail because a judge couldn’t understand or appreciate your argument?” said attorney Steven Schaet. “If she’s adversely affected someone’s life, she shouldn’t be on the bench.”
There are thus far no indications Pollack will face official disciplinary action. She has, however, checked herself into rehab.
Pollack’s court provides misdemeanor drug offenders opportunities to have their charges dismissed and their records wiped clean if they complete six months of rehabilitative treatment. Offenders who relapse face tougher consequences.
“She’s not afraid to lock somebody up if they’re repeatedly thumbing their nose at authority,” said defense attorney Bill Gelin.
In view of the vague penalties high-profile offenders are handed relative to the punishments routinely meted out to the commonfolk, it’s clear American society operates with orders of jurisprudence. U.S. Senator Donne Trotter, for instance, received one year of court supervision after he was caught trying to smuggle a handgun onto a plane at O’Hare airport late last year, and Keith Tabron, a former “Detective of the Year” for the Washington D.C. police department, was given a five year suspended sentence and probation for furtively videotaping his stepdaughter in the shower; a felony that under Maryland law demands sex offender registration. Prosecutors granted Tabron immunity from this provision, ostensibly because he had no prior criminal history.
Addiction is a tragic and destructive problem, as Judge Pollack surely must be aware. But it is not one that the government is capable of fairly or competently dealing with. In the spirit of justice, one would hope when she returns to the bench, she comes back with a new outlook on the oppressive War on Drugs… and that she comes back in a lucid state when holding people’s fates in her hands.
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If you would like to check on Judge Gisele Pollack’s progress, please refer to the following information. Remind her that sending people to prison for addiction is not in the interests of justice.
The Honorable Gisele Pollack
County Court Judge, Broward County
Seventeenth Judicial Circuit
201 Southeast 6th Street, Suite 200
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 33301