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Graham may face new charges

The list of official misconduct allegations against County Judge Gary Graham may grow from 31 to 45, according to a court record reviewed Wednesday.

The record stands as the first official confirmation that the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) is continuing to investigate the county's most controversial jurist.

The JQC filed six charges against Graham on Aug. 7 encompassing 31 episodes of alleged wrongdoing.

Now the panel is deciding whether to add 14 more examples of wrongdoing, according to a response that Graham filed in Tallahassee on Tuesday. That record did not elaborate on the new allegations, except to say that some examples date back as far as 1987.

Graham heard about the new allegations Monday and immediately asked the JQC for more time to respond.

Graham said the JQC wants him to respond to the new allegations at a meeting Oct. 22, just 13 working days after he learned about the charges for the first time.

The judge said Nov. 19 would be a better date, giving him time to prepare a response and handle his other work, as well. The JQC had not responded to that request as of late Wednesday.

Expected to be among the new misconduct examples is Graham's handling of a drunken driving case last month. The judge promised to file a Florida Bar complaint against a lawyer after she asked him to remove himself from the case.

Public Defender Skip Babb told the St. Petersburg Times on Sept. 17 that JQC investigators had discussed the issue with him at least twice.

The six charges filed earlier against Graham include improperly attacking fellow judges and public officials from the bench; abusing sentencing powers; acting undignified and discourteously toward lawyers and litigants; acting in a way that impugns the public perception of the judiciary; attempting to close public proceedings; and engaging in improper, secret conversations with lawyers and litigants.

Among the 31 examples of misconduct is an interview in which Graham said some local lawyers acted like children in his courtroom.

The JQC will consider Graham's case and decide whether he is guilty of violating the Canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The Florida Supreme Court then could reprimand Graham or remove him from the bench.

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