Miami-Dade County Judge Jacqueline Schwartz broke judicial conduct rules when she told the owner of a Coconut Grove convenience store last year to “Go f--- yourself” in a dispute over a political campaign sign, the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission has found.
The commission also found Schwartz engaged in inappropriate conduct in a separate incident in which she wrote notes on the margins of a legal file. The file, notes included, was photocopied by one of the parties in the case. But when a request came in later for the full file and notes, Schwartz instructed her bailiff to remove the notes, interfering with the court record and making it impossible to appeal any decision based on those pages. The pages were placed in a manila envelope and then lost.
Schwartz agreed to the charges in a disciplinary hearing last month and apologized for her behavior, according to court filings. She declined comment Tuesday through a courts spokeswoman.
“Judge Schwartz accepted full responsibility for the conduct set forth above, and admitted that it should never have occurred,” one of the filings says. “She also expressed regret that her conduct reflected so poorly on the judicial office that she holds.”
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As punishment, Schwartz will be publicly reprimanded. She will also have to write an apology letter to Firas Hussain, the owner of the Kwik Stop at 3101 Grand Ave. insulted by Schwartz last June, as first reported by the Miami Herald in September. The qualifications commission began investigating in October.
Schwartz lost her temper with Hussain when she complained about an oversize campaign sign for one of her opponents, Rachel Glorioso Dooley, outside the store. The judge demanded that the sign be removed or that she be allowed to put up one of her own. When Hussain turned her down, she swore at him.
Sky Smith, a lawyer for the shopping center’s owner and Dooley supporter, filed the legal complaint against Schwartz. He called the disciplinary action against her appropriate.
“I’m glad that they finally did something with it,” he said. “The shame is that this happened during an election, and the voters didn’t get a chance to give their opinion on her conduct, which is directly related to the campaign. Probably the people that she owes an apology to are her opponents.”
Around the courthouse, Schwartz is derided by attorneys who dislike her as “Wacky Jackie.”
Schwartz, who works out of the Hialeah courthouse, easily won reelection in November against Frank Bocanegra. She rankled the Hispanic community by issuing a statement the night of her victory saying voters had “gone past the days when any nondescript Hispanic could go on the ballot and defeat any Anglo sitting judge.”
After the Cuban American Bar Association complained, Schwartz apologized in a letter and “retracted” her statement.