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JUDGE ACCUSED OF TARDINESS, BIAS

Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO - A Marion County judge is in trouble for puffing too much on the job.

Circuit Judge William "Jack" Singbush is also accused of being habitually late to court, demonstrating religious and personal bias during court proceedings and other judicial improprieties that could result in his removal, records released Wednesday show. The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, an agency that investigates allegations of judicial misconduct, voted to file charges against Singbush after a confidential complaint was brought against him.

Singbush, who makes $142,178 annually, repeatedly fails to appear in court on time and often resorts to scheduling hearings at "inconvenient dates and times, such as Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. or Saturday morning," the agency said in documents released Wednesday. He is also charged with taking an excessive number of prolonged smoking breaks.

The judge is accused of violating six canons of Judicial Code of Conduct. The 20-year veteran, who was elected to the bench in 1991, presides over Marion County civil cases in the 5th Judicial Circuit, which also includes Sumter, Lake, Hernando and Citrus counties.

"Judge Singbush is disappointed by the JQC's choice to file formal charges," said Singbush's attorney, William "Dude" Phelan.

Ultimately, final authority rests with the Florida Supreme Court to carry out discipline.

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