On Monday, December 5, 2022, the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission recommended the public reprimand of Judge Mark Blumstein, of the 11th Judicial Circuit, Dade County Courthouse, Miami, Florida for judicial misconduct. The case is styled as ‘Inquiry Concerning a Judge, The Honorable Mark Blumstein’, with case number JQC no. 22-484.

The public reprimand of Judge Blumstein stemmed from his use of a photograph depicting Blumstein in Navy uniform during the 2022 re-election campaign. The Commission found that the billboards used by Judge Blumstein violated the Department of Defense Directive in that it did not comport with the DoD regulation and that the advertisement in question technically include the text of the disclaimer and text required by DoD, however, the font is so small that it is not visible to drivers passing the sign.

In his testimony, Judge Blumstein clarified that he is wearing an authentic Naval officer cap and a generic Navy issue black suit, white shirt, and black tie. The Commission believes that the distinction is without a difference because it is almost impossible to discern the difference between the suit Judge Blumstein wore in the photograph and the Service Dress Blue Uniform used by the U.S. Navy. Moreover, Blumstein had been previously advised by the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corps during the closing days of the 2016 election.

Judge Blumstein was found 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 Findings and Recommendation of Discipline state:

‘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.’

By these acts, the Commission ruled against Judge Blumstein in relation to his violation of the above-cited Judicial Canons and recommended to the Court that he receive a public reprimand.

As of today, Judge Mark Blumstein is the 11th Judicial Circuit Judge, at Dade County Courthouse. His 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. Judge Blumstein’s profile can be found online at this link.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.