Judge: I saw police commit felonies
A judge who said he
witnessed some of the anti-free trade protests
complains in open court about
how police handled the demonstrations.
By AMY DRISCOLLadriscoll@...
presiding over the cases of free trade protesters said in court
that he saw
''no less than 20 felonies committed by police officers''
during the November
demonstrations, adding to a chorus of complaints
Judge Richard Margolius, 60, made the remarks in open court last
saying he was taken aback by what he witnessed while attending
''Pretty disgraceful what I saw with my own eyes. And I
supported the police during my entire career," he said, according
court transcript. "This was a real eye-opener. A disgrace for
In the transcript, he also said he may have to remove
himself from any
additional cases involving arrests made during the Free
Trade Area of
the Americas summit. ....
Margolius, appointed to the bench in 1982, retired as a circuit
2001 but said he still hears cases 15 to 20 weeks a year when courts
On Friday, he chose not to elaborate on the remarks
he made from the
bench Dec. 11.
''I can't comment on pending cases,"
he said. "It was inappropriate for
me to make the comments I made. A
reasonable person could question my neutrality because of statements I made in
The judge did not single out a police department. More than
agencies were part of the FTAA security effort. The Miami
Department coordinated most police operations. ....
During the Dec. 11 hearings, the judge asked an assistant state attorney,
"How many police officers have been charged by the State Attorney so far for
what happened out there during the FTAA?"
None, the prosecutor
''None?" asked the judge. "Pretty sad commentary. At least from
The judge also wondered aloud how much the ''whole
episode'' had cost
''I know one thing. There were police
officers from every agency -- I
couldn't believe the sheer numbers," he said.
Two citizens' panels plan to hold a joint meeting Jan. 15 to
comments and complaints about police conduct during the FTAA, and both
Miami-Dade and Miami police are conducting internal reviews. ....
Herald staff writer Charles Rabin contributed to this report.