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article imageAlcoholic Florida judge charged with DUI after accident

By Arthur Weinreb     May 4, 2014 in Crime
Fort Lauderdale - When Gisele Pollack was designated to sit in a special drug court in Broward County, it was believed her alcoholism would be a benefit in helping her understand addicted defendants. After her arrest two days ago, it is thought perhaps enough is enough.
Pollack, 56, was involved in an accident with another vehicle early Friday morning. The driver of the other car was taken to hospital with a neck injury. Dylan Razack, 20, was unconscious for a few minutes.
According to the arrest report, an officer noticed the smell of an alcoholic beverage coming from both Pollack and the car. She was given a sobriety test and the officer noted she "was incredibly unsteady on her feet" and almost fell over a couple of times. Pollack was unable to touch her nose with her finger; her knuckle touched her cheek.
Alcoholic beverages were found in the judge's trunk and an empty plastic cup was found near the driver's seat. It was reported when Pollack, who refused to take a breathalyzer test, was arrested, she sobbed and screamed that she did not want to go to jail.
Pollack was charged with DUI, three counts of DUI causing property damage, and one count of failure to use due care. She was jailed and released from custody early Friday morning.
Pollack had been inebriated in the past when she was to sit on the bench. In December, she threatened to fire courthouse staff when they confronted her about her condition. When she was told not to go on the bench, she said, "F**k you, you're fired." Another judge was called in and removed the 56-year-old from the bench.
In March, she was in court when it was noted she was acting erratically and her speech was slurred. Pollack took a leave of absence and went to an outpatient clinic for treatment.
Pollack has been sitting on the special drug court since it was formed in 2005. Some attorneys say the judge's alcoholism gives her a sympathetic view to drug addicts. She is a popular figure around the courthouse.
Pollack's lawyer, Eric Schwartzreich, said, "I just hope that people treat her with the same level of respect and compassion that she shows defendants who appear before her. People want to hold judges to a higher standard. I understand that. But we also hold her to the standard of a human being."
The lawyer added that Pollack has had personal problems lately; the death of her mother and medical issues with her son.
But Public Defender and friend of the judge, Howard Finkelstein, thinks this may be the end of her judicial career. He said, "I think the governor and the JQC [Judicial Qualifications Committee] are probably going to say 'enough is enough.'"
Under Florida law, the JQC can make a recommendation Pollack be removed from the bench and the recommendation goes to the Florida Supreme Court.
While the chief justice of the Broward County court cannot suspend a judge, Peter Weinstein said if Pollack comes back, he will not give her any assignments until further notice.
More about judge gisele pollack, DUI, broward county court, Alcoholism
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