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Hearing continues for Broward County judge accused of driving drunk, causing crash

Judge Gisele Pollack sits before panel of Judicial Qualifications Commission

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Friday was another extremely emotional and draining day for a Broward County judge accused of driving drunk and causing a crash.

A sad reminder of her continuous struggle with alcoholism, Judge Gisele Pollack sat again before a panel of the state's Judicial Qualifications Commission as attorneys on both sides of the table said their piece.

"Judge Pollack has committed the cardinal sin of being a judge -- she allowed her good judgment to be corrupted through the use of alcohol," said Alex Williams, of the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

"We have a judge who has a serious disease," said Dave Bogenschutz, Pollack's attorney. "We ask you to look at her and to give her the same chance that she's given those thousands of people these many years that she has graced, and I say graced our county court."

The Florida Supreme Court suspended Pollack in May, saying she took the bench drunk twice within three months, then walked out of a residential rehabilitation program and getting into a car wreck while drunk that same night in Plantation, injuring the driver.

Since then, Pollack has sought treatment at several intense rehab facilities and claims to have had a spiritual awakening.

"There's no way for us to tell or to gauge exactly how committed Judge Pollack is with her sobriety, except if you're looking at her past behavior," said Williams. "Her past track record, as far as her being a judge in the past 18 months, is not good."

Before closing arguments, panel members put some of those who've treated the judge on the spot.

"Can you promise the panel here and the members of the Broward community that Judge Pollack will not relapse again? Can you promise that?" Williams asked Paul Pellinger.

"I don't think anyone can promise that," said Pellinger.

"What kind of guarantee, if any, can you give us?" a panel member asked psychiatrist Dr. Aldo Morales.

"I don't think anybody can give you the assurances you are seeking, not even the patient themselves," Morales said.

The panel will now review the evidence and the testimony, and make a recommendation to the Florida Supreme Court, which will ultimately decide what to do with Pollack's career. She could face a reprimand, sanctions, a suspension or combination of each, or be removed from the bench permanently.

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