A Judge, Baseball Tickets, and Impartiality: Do They Mix?

Florida’s Judicial Qualifications Commission does a good job overall of weeding out judges who might have character flaws or totally bad judgment, Herald-Tribune columnist Tom Lyon writes.

Lyon wonders, then, what will happen in a complaint brought by the commission against Manatee County Circuit Judge John Lakin. He reports  that Lakin is accused of receiving choice Rays baseball tickets from a law firm, which was handling a case before him. The case ultimately went the law firm’s way, after the judge overturned a jury verdict. Moreover, “Lakin allegedly got some of them after asking his judicial assistant to seek the tickets from the law firm.”

Lyon has been around for a while, and he says most of the judges he’s observed do a good job and aren’t clueless about ethics. But he is curious to see how the Florida Supreme Court will handle the commission’s complaint against Lakin, whose lawyer said the judge suffered a lapse in judgment. Lyon explains, “Are we supposed to believe his brain just stops working sometimes and that he forgets what the rules are, but that this ought not prevent him from being a judge?”

His column is headlined, “Like ball players, some judges don’t have the tools.”