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Judge tells defendant to skip town

A judge fed up with drug cases that fill jails and force hard-core offenders back onto the streets had some unusual advice for an alleged cocaine dealer: Skip town.

"And, hopefully, you will leave town and never come back," Broward Circuit Judge Robert J. Fogan said in court. "I don't want to try this case. I tell you that right now."

"You want me to leave?" asked defendant Timothy T. King.

"Doesn't matter to me," Fogan responded.

Fogan now says he wishes he'd chosen his words more carefully on June 24. "Of course, I didn't mean that. Honest . . ., I didn't mean that," hesaid Tuesday.

Fogan isn't the only Florida judge frustrated with huge caseloads of drug crimes and overflowing prisons. Earlier this year, Broward Circuit Judge J. Leonard Fleet apologized after flashing a gun at an unruly defendant.

Broward Chief Circuit Judge Dale Ross counseled Fogan after the comment."You can't get to the end of the tunnel. You can see the light, but you can't get down there," Ross said.

Fogan presides over Broward's drug court, a program that aims to rehabilitate cocaine users.

Assistant Public Defender Michael J. Rocque said Fogan was being "sarcastic" that day. "I know what the judge will do to the kid if he doesn't show up," Rocque said.