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Florida Newspaper Revokes Permission to Post Article Critical of Judge

Shortly after the Miami Daily Business Review (DBR) was designated as ?the record newspaper for Courthouse publications,? the DBR revoked permission for an unflattering article about Broward County?s Chief Judge Dale Ross to be posted on a defense attorney group?s web blog.

The attorney group, the Justice Advocacy Association of Broward, had received DBR?s permission to post a lengthy 1996 profile of Ross, which had originally been printed in the newspaper. DBR suddenly rescinded that permission without explanation. With the paper?s recent designation as the publication of record for the Broward County Court, it appeared that DBR was covering its flank and playing politics.

To be designated as the official newspaper of record, Chief Judge Ross had to grant his approval. The article in question revealed that the get-tough-on-crime Ross was himself charged in 1969 with felony breaking and entering a business, and misdemeanor counts of assault and battery and resisting arrest without violence. The felony charge was later reduced to petty larceny. Ross never has named his partner in the beer keg heist that resulted in the charges, saying he hates snitches.

The article also depicted Ross as being obsessed with weight lifting, political connections and a penchant for running things by ?fiat and fear.? The DBR had previously exposed the secret court docket debacle in Florida?s Second District. [See: PLN December, 2003]. It is hoped that its new designation as Broward?s official Courthouse publication will not prevent it from reporting such controversial issues in the future in order to stay politically acceptable.

Judge Ross, 59, the longest-serving chief judge in Florida, has weathered numerous incidents during his 17-year career, including claims of cronyism, an appellate court calling him ?pro-prosecution,? and allegations by a female attorney that Ross had sexually abused her. He also has been criticized for his leadership over other judges, including Broward County Circuit Judge Lawrence Korda, who was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession; Korda cut a deal on May 7, 2007 for a deferred prosecution agreement.

Ross announced on May 22, 2007 that he would resign as chief judge but will stay on the bench through September. His legacy will continue, however: Stacy M. Ross, his daughter, a former prosecutor, was recently appointed to the bench.

Source: New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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