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Panel dismisses misconduct charges against circuit judge

The state Judicial Qualifications Commission has decided to dismiss charges of misconduct against Circuit Judge Michael Blackstone now that Blackstone has announced his resignation.

However, the commission left open the door to renew its prosecution of Blackstone on the misconduct charges if he should decide to run for judge again.

"This dismissal has nothing to do with the evidence," said John Mills, a special counsel to the commission who has led the prosecution of the case. "We've got enough evidence to prosecute him and have him removed from office. But the commission has a limited budget, and unfortunately Judge Blackstone is not the only judge in Florida misbehaving out there."

Blackstone serves in the Circuit Court that includes Citrus and Hernando counties.

Blackstone faced eight charges of misconduct, the most serious among them including lying under oath to the commission and repeatedly questioning witnesses in court cases outside the courtroom. He also was accused of engaging in a pattern of abusive treatment of lawyers and making inappropriate remarks about other judges and women.

Attorneys for the commission have confirmed in recent weeks that Blackstone was potentially facing removal from office if found guilty.

The judge announced his resignation Aug. 31, effective Oct. 31, saying his heart was no longer in the job and that he felt he would not receive a fair hearing from the commission. He has repeatedly denied many of the allegations and characterized others as honest mistakes.