Former judge faces discipline for relationship

Ana Gardiner accused of having secret relationship with homicide prosecutor during death penalty trial in 2007

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A former Broward County judge faces disciplinary action for an alleged secret relationship with a homicide prosecutor during a death penalty trial in 2007.

The Bar inquiry for Ana Gardiner began in West Palm Beach on Tuesday.

The Florida Bar claims that Gardiner had a secret "significant and emotional relationship" with the prosecutor. According to the Bar, she exchanged 949 phone calls and 471 text messages during the case of Omar Loureiro with prosecutor Howard Scheinberg.

The Broward County State Attorney's Office asked attorney Bruce Rogow to investigate, and he said Loureiro should receive a new trial.

"It would not be proper to sentence or to execute Mr. Loureiro and to uphold his conviction in the case in which there had been communication between the prosecutor and the judge," said Rogow.

Gardiner resigned in 2010. Several attorneys testified on her behalf Tuesday.

"She said something, you knew it was golden," said chief homicide prosecutor Brian Cavanagh.

"No, I don't condone that at all," said former Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth, "but, still, what I do say is you must take the person as a whole."

Testimony continues Wednesday morning.

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