TALLAHASSEE — In a first-of-its-kind reprimand, the Florida Supreme Court scolded a judge Tuesday for a "personal attack" and "unsubstantiated accusations" he made against a colleague in a written opinion.
Judge Michael Allen stood before the court and listened to a 10-minute lecture from the court's chief justice for his comments in a 2006 opinion. But the reprimand doesn't carry any consequences for Allen, a judge on the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee, one of five state courts of appeal.
In reading the reprimand, however, Chief Justice Peggy Quince told Allen it was being broadcast "on live television throughout the state" and warned him that a second ethical violation would be treated more harshly.
Allen said nothing and did not comment outside of court.
The reprimand is the first time a Florida judge has been disciplined for violating judicial ethics because of his court opinion.
It was Allen's concurring opinion in a case involving former Senate President W.D. Childers that got him in trouble. Childers was appealing a bribery conviction that was ultimately upheld. Allen suggested in his opinion that fellow judge Charles Kahn should have recused himself from the case and that Kahn's dissent was payback for "past favors" from Childers and his close friend, Pensacola lawyer Fred Levin, a former law partner of Kahn's.