In October 2012, the Judicial Qualifications Commission’s investigative panel filed formal charges against Palm Beach County Judge Barry M. Cohen for using his bench as, in their words, a “bully pulpit” and “a neutral and detached magistrate.”
The findings came after the outspoken judge made some comments about racial profiling and mandatory sentences.
Specifically, Cohen criticized the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office for the way it handles criminal cases. He also criticized the law making marijuana illegal and has been outspoken on the county’s police department’s alleged racial profiling and racial bias. Some would say Cohen is just speaking the truth (including us here at Toke of the Town). The panel, however, found it inappropriate behavior for a judge and recommended a reprimand by the Florida Supreme Court. On Tuesday morning, Cohen received that reprimand.
For his part, Cohen admitted to being outspoken on racial profiling and said he shouldn’t have made the comments in court. He also apologized for a perceived partiality as a judge and explained that his opinions were merely a way to “engage in a dialogue designed to improve the law and the administration of justice,” according to a stipulation signed by Cohen’s attorneys and the commission.
“Judge Cohen now recognizes that when speaking from the bench, he must be mindful that ‘the robe magnifies everything,’ and that the judicial office imposes speech and conduct restrictions that would be burdensome to ordinary citizens,” the stipulation also reads.
Read more over at the Broward-Palm Beach New Times.