Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat, who made national news by sending a disrespectful young woman to the slammer for a month this week, was not always all that respectful himself.
The judge, a former Miami state representative, once duked it out with a fellow representative on the floor of the state House in Tallahassee.
It was democracy — doled out with an iron hand and caught on videotape.
The well-publicized fight occurred during a debate about school vouchers in the 1998 session.
Republican Rodriguez-Chomat fast-walked toward fellow lawmaker Carlos Valdes, also from Miami, and grabbed him by the tie. Then he yanked and pulled.
The scene turned into a free-for-all between the two as they grappled like wrestlers trying to get the upper hand.
House members and security guards rushed to the floor and separated them before blood was spilled.
Valdes, now a real-estate agent, wouldn’t comment about the fracas. Neither did he want to say anything about Rodriguez-Chomat’s national headlines-grabbing encounter with Penelope Soto, 18, who flipped off Rodriguez-Chomat as he held her in contempt.
“Enough has been said about both incidents,” Valdes said.
But in interviews at the time of the incident, Valdes accused Rodriguez-Chomat of calling him a “jackass.”
Imagine the sentence Judge Rodriguez-Chomat would mete out to someone who’d done that.
Rodriguez-Chomat’s approval ratings among attorneys, according to numbers collected by the Dade Country Bar Association in 2010, were the second-lowest among 99 judges. Forty-six percent of area lawyers polled said they think he is unqualified for the bench.
Rodriguez-Chomat does not comment about cases before him.
Things are about to get hellaciously hectic for former WTVJ-NBC 6 anchorwoman Martha Sugalski, now one of Orlando’s most recognizable TV personalities.
Sugalski, 42, is pregnant with triplets.
And she plans to work until days before she delivers the bundles of joy, sometime in August.
In addition to her flair for drama, Sugalski is remembered in these parts for the total 27 months she worked the mean streets of South Florida for Channel 6 while pregnant.
At the time, she was married to Miami Marlins and Florida Panthers broadcaster Craig Minervini. The oldest of their three children is 18.
Sugalski moved to Orlando’s NBC affiliate in 2006 and eventually got remarried to a local businessman.
She announced the triplets on air by placing three baby shoes on the anchor desk, saying: “I don’t think I can hide it for much longer!”
The folks at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine traveled to where money lives over the weekend.
That put them at The Breakers in Palm Beach for the second annual Solving the Neurological Puzzle black-tie fundraiser. Word is organizers netted $200,000-plus for research and clinical care.
Star Jim Belushi supplied the laughs and some Blues Brothers music.
At the tables: UM Prez Donna Shalala and Florida Board of Medicine Chairman Zachariah P. Zachariah.