On Monday, October 2, 2023, an Order Scheduling Case Management Conference and Notice of Hearing Panel Members was issued by the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission. The conference is related to the inquiry concerning Seminole County Judge Wayne Culver.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Wayne Culver,” with case no. SC-22-0846.
On September 29, 2023, the Judicial Qualifications Commission of Florida (FJQC) announced the designation of hearing panel members for an inquiry concerning Judge Wayne Culver. The charges against Judge Culver stem from two incidents that occurred in January and February 2022. In the first incident, Judge Culver used sarcasm and mockery when addressing a prose litigant, telling him that the court’s words were “the most important words you’ll ever hear as long as you live as an organism on this planet.” He also threatened to send the litigant to jail for so long that the litigant would “have to have the jail re-named after [him].”
In the second incident, Judge Culver swore at and threatened a defendant in open court. He later entered an order of recusal from the defendant’s criminal case. The Judicial Qualifications Commission found that Judge Culver’s behavior was inappropriate and violated the Code of Judicial Conduct. They recommended a public reprimand as the appropriate sanction, considering the extraordinarily inappropriate nature of Judge Culver’s behavior and the fact that two instances of inappropriate conduct occurred after only a year of being in office.
The report states:
“The JQC determined that Judge Culver’s behavior was inappropriate and violated the Code of Judicial Conduct, as it lacked the dignity and decorum expected of judges. The Commission was also concerned that Judge Culver’s threat of consecutive jail sentences effectively barred the pro se litigant from exercising his right to self-representation.”
After designating the members, the FJQC announced the commencement of a case management conference that will be held on October 27, 2023, at 9:00 a.m. via the Zoom platform. During the conference, counsel for both parties will discuss with the chair and make commitments concerning various issues, including pre-trial discovery, witnesses and exhibits, length of the trial, motions to be heard prior to the final hearing, and any further amendments to charges or defenses.
Following the conference, the chair will enter an order providing concrete deadlines for discovery and pre-trial disclosures, and setting a trial date and pre-trial dates. All parties and counsel are requested to give serious consideration to all dates and deadlines suggested at the case management conference, as no extensions of time or continuances will be granted without a showing of good cause.
The FJQC also notified the parties that at the final hearing, the respondent judge will be limited to a total of three live character witnesses. The hearing panel will otherwise consider letters or affidavits as to character filed by the respondent judge.
The case management conference and notice of hearing panel members are important steps in the inquiry process, as they help ensure that the case is managed efficiently and that all parties are aware of the deadlines and procedures that will be followed. The FJQC is responsible for investigating and hearing complaints against judges and judicial candidates and making recommendations for disciplinary action when appropriate.
Judge Culver’s courtroom is located at Seminole Criminal Justice Center Eslinger Way Sanford, FL, and can be reached at (407) 665-4982. His bio can be found on flcourts18.org.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.