Here’s one more achievement for Martin Zilber’s scrapbook: The Miami-Dade Circuit judge is facing a 60-day suspension and $30,000 fine for routinely skipping work, ordering his staff to run personal errands for him and, yes, having a staffer assemble a scrapbook of his achievements.
The Judicial Qualifications Commissions recommended this twofold punishment after its investigation found that Zilber routinely engaged in “inappropriate” treatment of his staff. He not only berated his judicial assistant, he complained about the “inconvenient timing of her pregnancy.”
In addition to being in charge of the judge’s calendar and running his office, this beleaguered woman also was forced to work on the scrapbook. Once, according to the JQC, he asked this pregnant assistant to wheel his chair up “several floors to the courtroom and then lift it onto the dais prior to hearings.”
We can only hope the judge wasn’t seated in the chair when he made her do this.
Zilber’s assistant and his bailiff also had to drive him to events. The bailiff was asked to register the judge’s car with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and pick up Art Basel tickets during working hours, the probe found.
In addition, it was revealed that Zilber was missing from the courthouse for a total of 51 days between January 2019 and March 2020, without telling his supervisors.
And once the coronavirus pandemic hit, he hit the road — to Malibu, California, for a week. He said he was going to work remotely. Of course, it didn’t quite happen that way, especially after he rescheduled his regular hearings.
In 2014, the Editorial Board recommended Zilber for this seat on the circuit court, impressed that he had undergone the rigorous Judicial Nominating Commission process, seeking an appointment bench from the governor. But who knew this is how he would misuse his authority?
The Florida Supreme Court will weigh in with the final decision.
We think the JQC’s recommendation is rather lenient. Yes, Zilber took responsibility for his actions and appeared contrite. But we would hope that the Supreme Court would also factor in this judge’s arrogant, sexist words and deeds. He is an elected official from whom much more is expected. He abused not only his staff, but also the dignity and integrity of his office.