Florida Supreme Court reprimands Seminole County judge

Harsh words were handed down to Seminole County Judge Jerri Collins, who was publicly reprimanded by the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee on Tuesday for her behavior on the bench.

“Judge Collins,” Chief Justice Jorge Labarga said during the reprimand, “this is indeed a sad day for you, a sad day for the people of Florida and a sad day for the judiciary, upon which our people depend for justice. I cannot emphasize enough how intolerable your behavior was in this case.”

The case happened last spring, when Judge Collins jailed a domestic violence victim for ignoring a subpoena, even after the woman told the court, she was too anxious to testify against her abuser.

When we spoke with the victim last fall, she said she never expected to be the one in handcuffs after her husband allegedly came at her with a knife, and choked her.

“You shouldn’t be throwing a domestic violence victim in jail for fearing for their safety and not testifying against their abuser,” the victim told FOX 35.

The Florida Supreme Court agreed, after the Judicial Qualifications Commission got wind of what happened and launched an investigation.

“During the contempt proceedings you were discourteous and impatient toward the distraught victim,” Justice Labarga said during the reprimand, “You raised your voice, used sarcasm, spoke harshly, and interrupted the victim.”

Besides the very public scolding, Judge Collins was ordered into anger management and to attend a domestic violence course provided by the Florida Judicial College.

It’s a fitting punishment, said criminal defense attorney, Whitney Boan.

“We don’t want people to not call 911 when they are victimized in domestic violence situations and we don’t want people to be afraid that the courts are going to punish them for having complicated lives and situations. It’s important to have improper conduct by our judiciary be addressed and brought to light,” Boan added. 

Judge Collins will remain on the bench, with a stern warning that any further misconduct will have severe consequences.