It was easy to miss through the din of nearly 800 South Florida lawyers eating lunch, but the chief judge of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said there is an investigation under way into a U.S. district judge for judicial misconduct.
Judge Joel F. Dubina would not say where the judge sits in the 11th Circuit, which encompasses Florida, Georgia and Alabama, or the basis of the complaint.
He told attendees at the Southern District of Florida Bench and Bar Conference in Doral last week that he has convened a committee and approved its request to hire an investigator. The committee has subpoena power.
Some attorneys speculated Dubina wouldn’t have mentioned the investigation if it had been a South Florida judge.
Dubina said he dismisses 99.9 percent of complaints against district judges, finding most of the complainants were sore about the outcome of a case. He said going through complaints was the most distasteful part of being chief judge.
Dubina, who was making his third speech in a week, said he has seen a sea change from big drug cases to fraud and public corruption cases in the last few years.
The chief judge said he likes to stay sharp by returning to the Middle District of Alabama each summer to oversee some trials. "The lawyers always looked shocked when they see me on the bench," he said.
Dubina served as a U.S. magistrate judge from 1983 to 1986 and as a district judge in Alabama from 1986 to 1990 before being nominated to the 11th Circuit by President George H.W. Bush. He took the position of chief judge last June.