The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended a Miami-Dade judge who had been removed from the bench three weeks ago after appearing drunk on the bench — an incident that came on the heels of an expletive-laced outburst at a restaurant.
In a one-paragraph statement, the state high court said County Judge Jacqueline Schwartz has until May 9 to respond to the decision and argue her case against the ruling. She will continue to be paid during the suspension.
Chief Judge Bertila Soto pulled Schwartz from the bench of her Miami-Dade courtroom on March 28 after Schwartz appeared to be drunk. She has been on paid medical leave since.
Ten days prior to that incident, the judge created a ruckus at a Coconut Grove restaurant. Schwartz was at the Ergon Greek Deli and Cuisine on Grand Avenue on March 18 when she got upset at a waiter and berated him for refusing to serve her more alcohol. State investigators who recommended the suspension to the Supreme Court said Schwartz yelled at the waiter, “you’re a f---ing idiot, you don’t know who I am.”
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Police were called. When they showed up, the judge called them “pigs,” an investigation by the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission claimed. Investigators also said Schwartz was spilling wine and slurring. The commission did its own investigation and interviewed the officer who confronted Schwartz.
Schwartz’s lawyer Jeffrey Feiler told the commission earlier this month that Schwartz was not drunk, but was taking a new prescription drug.
Miami police did not arrest Schwartz, they said, because the situation calmed down and the owners did not want to press charges.
Police didn’t write up an incident report or complete any paperwork that included the judge’s name after the March 18 incident at the Greek deli, though they confirmed this week that the person involved was Schwartz.
Miami Police Maj. Delrish Moss said it’s normal for police not to create paperwork for disturbances that police are able to de-escalate and in which no is injured or there is no major damage.
“It’s typical of just a dispute. Most of the time we just restore the peace,” said Moss.
The major said at one point the officer pulled the judge aside and told her she could be facing jail time if she refused to calm down. The officer said the judge obeyed that order and that a friend drove her home.
According to Moss, the officer involved in the incident said that, “If I put everyone in jail who calls me a name, the jails would be full.”
The Supreme Court is familiar with Schwartz who was suspended for 30 days and fined $10,000 in 2014 after telling a store owner to “go f--- yourself.” The judge was upset about an an opponents over-sized campaign sign that was hanging at the store.