A disgraced, disbarred attorney has filed an official complaint over state Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente's partisan remarks at a South Florida synagogue.
In a letter to the Judicial Qualifications Commission, Jack Thompson, of Coral Gables, called Pariente's speech "partisan, issues-related, evocative of her religion, and violative of various judicial canons."
Pariente last week told a gathering at Temple Emeth of Delray Beach that "a vote yes will be a vote to retain me and the other two justices. … A vote no will give Governor [Rick] Scott the right to make his appointments, which will result in partisan political appointments."
Dan Stengle, legal counsel for the three justices' merit-retention campaigns, said he saw "nothing that Justice Pariente said that violated any judicial canons or election laws. Her reported comments were factual and truthful, and there was nothing inappropriate about what she said or where she said it.
"Justice Pariente, in the constitutionally-provided merit retention process, has every right to speak about merit retention and her role as a Supreme Court justice.
"She also considers it her obligation to the voters of Florida to discuss these issues and the importance of maintaining a fair and impartial judiciary that operates without fear or favor, as Floridians contemplated when they adopted the Florida Constitution," Stengle said.
Francine Walker, spokeswoman for the Florida Bar, said her organization "does not have jurisdiction over the judges. The Judicial Qualifications Commission, a separate agency, does."
A spokesman for the JQC said commissioners are "not allowed to comment on" pending cases.