On January 3, 2023, the Supreme Court of Florida publicly reprimanded Mark Blumstein, former judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit, Dade County Courthouse, Miami, Florida, for his inappropriate use of military indicia during his 2022 re-election campaign.

The case is styled as ‘Inquiry Concerning a Judge, The Honorable Mark Blumstein’ with case SC22-1655.

On December 5, 2022, the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission issued its Findings and Recommendation of Discipline where it finds Judge Blumstein to have violated Canon 1, Canon 2A, Canon 7A(3)(a), Canon 7A(3)(b), and Canon 7A(3)(e)(ii), when he:

failed to maintain and observe the high standards of conduct

failed to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary

willfully disregarded DoD regulations and Florida election law (requiring that a judicial candidate “shall be faithful to the law. . .) and (“shall. . . act in a manner consistent with the impartiality, integrity, and independence of the judiciary. . .”)

inappropriately used a picture of himself in uniform, without a “prominent and clearly displayed” disclaimer (i.e, that the candidate or campaign is affiliated or endorsed by the U.S. government)

The Code of Judicial Conduct for the State of Florida can be found online at the Supreme Court of Florida website.

The disciplinary matter stemmed from Blumstein appearing in a 2022 re-election campaign material wearing a Navy uniform. The Commission found that the billboards used by Judge Blumstein did not comport with the Department of Defense (DOD) directive and that the advertisement in question technically include the disclaimer and text required by DOD, however, the font is small that it is not visible to drivers passing the billboard.

The Findings and Recommendation of Discipline reads:

‘The Commission has considered the possibility that, despite his over twenty-year career as a Navy officer and lawyer with the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corps, Judge Blumstein may have been unaware of the extensive DoD regulations regarding the use of military indicia during his 2016 campaign. However, the Commission believes that at the point he was specifically and individually warned by the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corps that his advertisements were inappropriate, he was ethically bound to take corrective action, or, at the very least, not use a nearly identical advertisement again in the next election. He chose to do neither. He candidly acknowledged that he used poor judgment in deciding to use the same billboard advertisement again in his 2022 campaign.’

The Findings and Recommendation of Discipline continue:

‘By way of mitigation, the Commission notes that Judge Blumstein immediately accepted responsibility for his conduct, apologized, and cooperated with the Investigative Panel of the Commission. He provided candid written and oral testimony and expressed regret that his actions have tarnished the judiciary. Judge Blumstein has not been previously disciplined as a judge and has no prior disciplinary history with the Florida Bar.’

Accordingly, upon consideration of the Commission’s Findings and Recommendation of Discipline as well as the parties’ Stipulation, the Court deemed it appropriate to enter an Order of public reprimand.

As of today, Blumstein is no longer the 11th Judicial Circuit Judge, at Dade County Courthouse. His term ended on January 3, 2023. His former courtroom is located at 73 West Flagler St., Miami, Florida. He earned a law degree from Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law in 1996.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.