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Judge Michael E. Allen is accused of lying about his feelings toward a fellow judge.
By LUCY MORGAN, Times Senior Correspondent
Published February 8, 2008
TALLAHASSEE - District Court Judge Michael E. Allen is now facing perjury charges for telling the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission he held no animosity for a fellow judge he criticized in a written opinion last year.
Facing initial charges of conduct unbecoming a judge in the fall, Allen appeared before the commission in October to explain the reason he criticized Judge Charles J. Kahn Jr. for attempting to overturn the criminal conviction of former Sen. W.D. Childers.
"I didn't want to do this. This was no vendetta by me," Allen insisted when accused of harboring animosity toward Kahn. "Judge Kahn and I don't agree on everything. But if this has to do with animus leading to this opinion, there was none."
Now the commission is accusing Allen of lying during that appearance and ordered him to appear before it Feb. 28 to face the new charges. Allen had been scheduled to face trial on the original charges March 10 but lawyers for both sides have agreed to postpone the trial until the new charges are considered.
A former public defender appointed to the court by Gov. Bob Martinez in 1990, Allen said he criticized Kahn's participation in the Childers case because he feared the public would lose confidence in the court. Kahn, Allen pointed out, was once a law partner of Fred Levin, a Pensacola lawyer who is one of Childers' closest friends.
Bruce Rogow, the Fort Lauderdale lawyer who represents Allen, said in a prehearing statement filed Thursday that other judges and court officials will testify that Allen's concern over the Childers opinion was based on his concern for the integrity of the court and not personal animus.
The new charges indicate the level of hostility toward Allen has dramatically escalated since members of the court were questioned last week in preparation for Allen's trial.
Several of Allen's fellow judges labeled Kahn as mentally unstable and given to temper tantrums as they described life inside a 15-member court where collegiality seems to have vanished.
Thirteen of the 15 judges filed a formal complaint against Kahn for having extra marital affairs with court employees, but the commission dismissed the charges against Kahn and voted to pursue Allen because he criticized Kahn.
Several of the judges have expressed outrage over the commission's decision to charge Allen with wrongdoing while exonerating Kahn.
Testifying last month, Kahn admitted making a telephone call to Levin on the day Allen's opinion was released. The call apparently led Levin's son, Martin, to file the formal complaint against Allen.
In a written request filed with the commission Thursday, Rogow said he needs time to explore the conversations between Kahn and Levin, especially since lawyers for the commission have asked the commission to prohibit any testimony about wrongdoing by Kahn or any other judges.
[Last modified February 8, 2008, 00:13:26]