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Broward County Judge Gisele Pollack

Broward judge seeks pay during suspension related to alcohol issues

From The News Service of Florida

Pointing to alcoholism as a disability, attorneys for a suspended Broward County judge are asking the Florida Supreme Court to allow her to continue getting paid while she undergoes treatment for a drinking problem.

The Supreme Court last week suspended without pay Judge Gisele Pollack after incidents that involved being intoxicated in court and getting charged with driving under the influence. But Pollack’s attorneys filed a document late Thursday with the Supreme Court asking it to reconsider and allow her to continue being paid.

It said Pollack has been in a rehabilitation program since May 7. “Judge Pollack is a judge whose personal expenses, and financial situation are such that a suspension without pay will cause a tremendous hardship and may require her to sell her home, as well as dip into retirement funds to maintain her cost of living over the next several months of her treatment,’’ the document said.

“She is not a wealthy woman, and lives as many people do, on her salary. A suspension without pay will work an onerous hardship and be emotionally debilitating as she struggles to overcome this disability and disease,” the document continued. “If, in fact, Judge Pollack had been suffering from cancer, or another disability that required her to be out of office in treatment or therapy, such a restriction would not have been appropriate.”

The Supreme Court took action after receiving a report from the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. An investigative panel of the commission charged that Pollack was intoxicated on the bench Dec. 17 and later entered into an agreement that she would refrain from using alcohol.

But documents filed with the Supreme Court alleged that Pollack was again impaired on the bench March 19.

She then took a leave of absence to enter an inpatient substance-abuse program but walked away from that program May 1.

The documents said Pollack was involved in an automobile accident early on the morning of May 2 and was charged with driving under the influence causing property damage.

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