UNITED STATES NEWS

Florida attorneys who criticized discrimination ruling should be suspended, judge says

Jan 29, 2024, 12:54 PM | Updated: 1:08 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A judge recommended 30-day suspensions for a father-daughter pair of lawyers in Florida who spoke out after another judge overturned a jury’s $2.7 million ruling in favor of a Black doctor in a racial discrimination case.

Judge Lisa Herndon also recommended that Orlando attorney Jerry Girley, who is Black, and his daughter, Brooke Girley, complete a workshop on professionalism, according to reports she issued last week, two weeks after the judge held a hearing on the lawyers’ discipline case brought by the Florida Bar.

The Florida Supreme Court ultimately will decide what, if any, discipline the Girleys face. Punishment could go as far as disbarment or suspension of the Girleys’ law licenses.

The Girleys’ attorney, David Winker, said Monday that his clients planned to ask the judge for a rehearing.

“There are factual things that we think are inaccurate,” Winker said of the reports. “There is a long road now before anything is finalized.”

Supporters of the Girleys say disciplinary action could chill free speech for Florida lawyers.

Earlier this month, Jerry Girley had said the entire affair should be considered in the context of Florida’s political environment, where Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has removed two Democratic prosecutors, public colleges have been blocked from using taxpayer money on diversity programs and standards for teaching Black history say teachers should instruct middle-school students that enslaved people “developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

“What is disturbing to me, as a Black man living in Florida, is I find I have to be careful about what I say, what I think about race, not just in courts, but in schools, in corporate settings,” Girley told The Associated Press. “It’s a weight.”

Jerry Girley represented a Black doctor after he was fired from AdventHealth in Orlando in 2021. A jury sided with Girley’s client on several of the counts and awarded $2.7 million, but the judge presiding over the case overruled that decision because he said the doctor had failed to prove that race was a factor in his dismissal from a radiology residency program.

Girley and his daughter, Brooke Girley — who was not involved in the case — publicly criticized the decision by Judge Kevin Weiss, according to The Florida Bar.

The organization of licensed lawyers in Florida reported that Jerry Girley said in an interview that the decision was improper and the court system doesn’t provide equal justice to all, instead providing a “back door” which is “often used to undermine Black people and their cases.” The Florida Bar said Brooke Girley wrote on social media, “Even when we win, it only takes one white judge to reverse our victory.”

Weiss said in court papers that the Girleys’ allegations “spread across the internet” and led to death threats requiring police protection at his home.

Herndon said in her reports recommending discipline that the Girleys had violated their oath of admission to the Florida Bar by, among other things, failing to maintain the respect due to judicial officers and making false statements.

Regarding the Girleys’ arguments that the First Amendment protected their criticism, the judge said their statements weren’t protected by free speech and that the lawyers had failed to show they had a factual basis for making the statements.

“The content of the statements undermines public confidence in the court system and is prejudicial to the administration of justice,” Herndon wrote in her reports.

___

Follow Mike Schneider on X, formerly known as Twitter: @MikeSchneiderAP.

United States News

A "vote here" sign sits outside a Phoenix polling place in 2022....

Associated Press

Judge rules Arizona’s new voting laws requiring proof of citizenship aren’t discriminatory

An Arizona district judge has ruled state legislators didn't discriminate when passing new voting laws that require proof of citizenship.

47 minutes ago

FILE - Phill Cady holds a sign during a "Take Our Border Back" rally on Feb. 3, 2024, in Quemado, T...

Associated Press

Russian disinformation is about immigration. The real aim is to undercut Ukraine aid

WASHINGTON (AP) — For Vladimir Putin, victory in Ukraine may run through Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. In recent weeks, Russian state media and online accounts tied to the Kremlin have spread and amplified misleading and incendiary content about U.S. immigration and border security. The campaign seems crafted to stoke outrage and polarization before the 2024 […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Defendant Kevin Monahan, left, listens to opening statements in his murder trial, Jan. 11, 2...

Associated Press

Man to be sentenced for murdering a woman who was mistakenly driven up his rural New York driveway

FORT EDWARD, N.Y. (AP) — A man who fatally shot a 20-year-old woman in an SUV that was mistakenly driven up his rural driveway in upstate New York is scheduled to be sentenced Friday. Kevin Monahan, 66, was convicted of second-degree murder in the death last April of Kaylin Gillis. Gillis was riding in a […]

8 hours ago

David and Stephanie Joiner pose by part of an artwork, called Greenwood Pond: Double Site, Sunday, ...

Associated Press

Artists outraged by removal of groundbreaking work along Des Moines pond

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Des Moines arts organization is preparing to rip out a groundbreaking artwork that lines a pond in a historic city park, surprising the New York artist who created the work decades ago and leading to an outpouring of opposition by other artists and local residents. The decision to remove […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Parts of the Sierra Nevada likely to get 10 feet of snow from powerful storm by weekend

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The most powerful Pacific storm of the season is forecast to bring up to 10 feet (3 meters) of snow into the Sierra Nevada by the weekend, forcing residents to take shelter and prompting Yosemite National Park and at least one Lake Tahoe ski resort to close. The storm began barreling […]

8 hours ago

FILE - Paramedic Peter Cichuniec attends his arraignment at the Adams County Justice Center in Brig...

Associated Press

Paramedic convictions in Elijah McClain’s death spur changes for patients in police custody

DENVER (AP) — Medical responders across the U.S. are rethinking how they treat people in police custody after a jury last December handed down a rare decision: It convicted two Colorado paramedics for their roles in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain following an overdose of a powerful sedative. As one of the paramedics faces […]

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Florida attorneys who criticized discrimination ruling should be suspended, judge says