A state investigative panel is accusing a Miami-Dade County judge of impropriety involving a television show called “Protection Court.”
According to a notice of charges filed Wednesday, Judge Carroll Kelly participated in the show, which used “actual litigants” appearing before her in domestic violence cases.
Kelly, who presides over the circuit’s domestic-violence division, also gave “minimal notice” to litigants scheduled to appear before her that the show’s producer would ask them for consent to appear on “Protection Court,” according to the charges sent to Kelly and filed at the Florida Supreme Court by an investigative panel of the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Litigants were presented with an “appearance release” shortly before entering the courtroom for their hearings, the panel alleged.
“Even litigants who did not consent to appear in ‘Protection Court’ were still filmed,” the notice of formal charges said. The release required litigants to waive and release “any and all manner of liabilities, claims and demands of any kind.”
Kelly’s participation in the television show “lent the prestige of your judicial office to advance the private interests of yourself or others,” lawyers for the investigative panel wrote in the charges.
The investigative panel also accused the judge of making misleading statements when she obtained consent from the chief judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit to participate in the filming of “Protection Court.”
Kelly said she had obtained assurances that her involvement would not violate any ethical guidelines governing judges, known as the Code of Judicial Conduct.
The “Protection Court” website says the show “opens the doors to the domestic violence courtroom of Miami’s Lawson E. Thomas Courthouse to capture real-life court as it happens in one of the country’s busiest working protection order courts.”
The website also says that all the participants have consented to be on the show and that Kelly is not paid to appear on the syndicated program. Kelly’s lawyer, David Rothman, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. The Florida Supreme Court has the authority to impose sanctions on judges.
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