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Broward public defender: 'I am truly sorry' for making gay jokes in courtroom

Last month, a Broward judge and a veteran assistant public defender apologized for jokes they made in the courtroom in a case of a man accused of having sex with a teenage boy.

According to the October transcript:

Judge Jeffrey Levenson asked what position the boy played in football.

Prosecutor Adriana Alcalde, replied: "linebacker.''

That prompted Assistant Public Defender Brian Reidy to joke: "Tight end.''

Levenson then chimed in: "Wide receiver?''

After Alcalde said she didn't think the jokes were "even remotely funny,'' both Levenson and Reidy apologized.

On Sunday, The Miami Herald ran this op-ed piece by Reidy:

A few weeks ago in court I made a comment that can only be interpreted as offensive. While the comment itself does not bear repeating, I feel compelled to discuss the consequences it wrought and the subsequent introspection I have undergone as a result.

I say to people who were offended or hurt that I am truly sorry for any pain I inflicted. They have a right to expect a higher standard of conduct from someone who has been a member of our legal community for more than 20 years.

Though I never intended any harm by my remark, the level of insensitivity it demonstrated cannot be excused.

As an assistant public defender I have had the opportunity to represent citizens from all walks of life and from every conceivable background.

I have made it my life's work to defend the poor and oppressed, to make certain they received the same quality of representation and legal services afforded the more affluent regardless of race, color, creed or sexual orientation. The notion that all people should be treated equally is not only the cornerstone of our system of government and the driving force behind the office to which I have dedicated my professional life, it is also an ideal that I have tried to uphold my entire career. Because of these beliefs, I have always held myself to a high standard of behavior, and in this case, to my disappointment, I failed to live up to this standard.

Tragically, the gay community is still openly discriminated against, even by some of our civic and religious leaders. I find it impossible to imagine what it must be like to belong to a group that is constantly criticized, condemned and denied equal treatment under the law. How can we as a society claim that all people are created equal when such blatant prejudice is not only tolerated, but in many instances actually encouraged?

It has taken this unfortunate mistake on my part for me to realize how easy it can be to disregard the feelings of others.

No matter how open-minded we think we are, it is often too easy to forget that what we say is as important as what we do.

BRIAN G. REIDY, Fort Lauderdale

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