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Facing ethics trial, 'Taj Mahal' judge says he's resigning

Lucy Morgan delivers the scoop:

1st District Court Judge Paul M. Hawkes is resigning from the court to avoid an ethics trial before the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

Hawkes was charged in May with conduct unbecoming a judge, destroying public records and intimidating state employees involved in the construction of the court's new $50 million courthouse which many have dubbed a "Taj Mahal.''

The new courthouse has sparked outrage throughout the state as court employees have been laid off and budget cuts have forced other judges to postpone needed repairs to leaking roofs and malfunctioning air conditioners.

Hawkes did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the St. Petersburg Times obtained a copy of his letter of resignation submitted after months of negotiating with the commission in charge of disciplining judges.

The charges against Hawkes describe him as "unfit'' to be a judge and say he has damaged the integrity of the state's entire judicial system by his actions. The charges are likely to be dropped since he has agreed to leave the bench.

Hawkes has submitted a letter to Gov. Rick Scott saying he will leave the court on Jan. 4, 2012, just a few weeks before he was scheduled to face trial for conduct unbecoming a judge. He was appointed to the court by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2002.


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Cynical Idealist

Like many of us, Hawkes'' suffers from the certitude of his positions. It's an unfortunate affliction because it causes people to know their position on issues is the right one and to discount those who oppose them or hold a differing opinion about things. Add to that the factors of having served in elected office where people kissed his backside and told him he was the brightest bulb on the porch, along with serving in the Speaker's office where every lobbyist, staffer and member was toadying up in an effort to curry favor, and it is easy to discern how he got that way. I pray, for him, that this is a humbling experience and he learns and, ultimately, grows from it.


And, after a long list of Jeb bush nominees and appointees that have hit the skids with ethics complaints, let's not forget Lila Jaber and Braulio baez of the PSC.
Oh! Like Hawkes, Baez found a way in the door again as director of the PSC! I am sure Hawkes will too.

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