On Tuesday, January 23, 2024, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay reported that Judge Jared Smith filed a motion to avoid testifying in a disciplinary case against Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Nancy Jacobs.
According to the article, Judge Smith who currently serves on Florida’s 6th District Court of Appeal was subpoenaed by Jacobs’ legal team to provide testimony. However, Smith’s attorneys described the subpoena as “irrelevant, improper and harassing.” They argued in a motion that Smith’s conduct and testimony have no relevance to the allegations against Jacobs and would only serve to burden and embarrass him.
The disciplinary case stems from a contentious election campaign between Smith and Jacobs in 2022 where Jacobs ultimately defeated Smith for his circuit judge seat. Since then, Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Smith to the appeals court. An investigative panel of the Judicial Qualifications Commission alleged that Jacobs made inappropriate remarks about Smith’s positions and injected partisan politics into the race improperly.
However, Jacobs’ attorneys maintained that Smith’s actions during the campaign, such as appearing in a video with his wife where she criticized Jacobs, are fair game for her to respond to. They argued a judicial conduct rule allows judges to respond to attacks made in political campaigns.
The motion filed by Smith’s attorneys, including former Florida Supreme Court Justice Alan Lawson, denies the comments made by his wife in the video were anti-Semitic as Jacobs has alleged. They assert any objective observer would find the comments were not targeting Jacobs’ Jewish faith.
The Judicial Qualifications Commission will ultimately decide whether to compel Smith’s testimony or grant his request to avoid the deposition. As the case continues, it has become more bitterly contested than typical disciplinary matters involving Florida judges. The outcome could provide further clarity around the appropriate boundaries of Florida’s non-partisan judicial election process.
Source: Creative Loafing Tampa Bay