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Judicial panel recommends judge's suspension for impairment

Investigative report finds Judge Jacqueline Schwartz called police 'pigs'

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MIAMI –  A Florida judicial panel is recommending that a Miami-Dade County judge be suspended from the bench because of evidence she was impaired at a restaurant and at work.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission panel made the recommendation Monday pending the outcome of Judge Jacqueline Schwartz's case. The Florida Supreme Court must decide whether to approve the recommendation.

An investigation found that Schwartz appeared to be impaired on March 18 at a Coconut Grove restaurant, where witnesses said she berated waiters and called police "pigs."

"You were unsteady on your feet and slurring your words," the investigation document said. "You also spilled a glass of wine and then poured water all over the floor of the restaurant while attempting to refill your own glass."

When servers refused to give the judge more alcohol, she began swearing, the notice said, and told one server that she'd have him fired for denying her service.

"I want to speak with the (expletive) owner," Schwartz said, according to the investigation. "You are a (expletive) idiot. You don't know who I am."

When police were called to the restaurant, Schwartz remained uncooperative and became aggressive and uncooperative.

She began swearing at police and first responders, calling them "pigs," the notice said, and told police that they couldn't do anything to her because of her position in the court. 

Schwartz self-reported the incident to the Judicial Qualification Commission and told the panel that she "had nothing at all to drink and had not taken substances of any sort," the notice said. She went on to say that she didn't believe she committed any ethical violation.

During a Friday appearance before the investigative panel of the Judicial Qualification Commission, Schwartz said her conduct, if proven, would warrant actions that would demean her of her judicial official, the notice said. 

The probe also found that on March 28, Schwartz was impaired on the bench to the point that her bailiff had to drive her home. Schwartz attributed her behavior to a new prescription medication and not alcohol.

Schwartz was previously suspended and fined $10,000 for swearing at store clerk.