SEPTEMBER 22, 2005
An Orlando Florida circuit judge was removed from the bench eight months ago for judicial misconduct yet he has been collecting his regular annual salary of $139,497 to stay home and go golfing.
A Judicial Qualifications Commission found Orange Circuit Judge James Henson guilty of taking on a criminal-defense client while he was still a sitting county judge in late 2000 and then, as a private attorney, advising that same client to flee the country to avoid prosecution. The case involved two DUI manslaughter charges.
After being suspended, Henson even received a judicial raise that kicked in earlier this summer and taxpayers have so far shelled out nearly $50,000 to pay for the senior judges that make $300 to $350 a day to hear Henson’s cases.
How did this all happen? This outrageous agreement was never sanctioned by a court or approved by a judicial administrator. In fact, Henson avoided risking formal suspension by simply agreeing to take an extended leave.
The Florida Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Henson’s judicial misconduct case this month, but his sweet deal is not expected to end anytime soon. That is because the state’s high court typically takes six months after hearing oral arguments to decide issues such as the removal of a judge.
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