‘Paranoid’ FL divorce judge accused of punishing woman who refused Facebook ‘friend’ request
A Florida judge who is being investigated for sending a Facebook “friend” request to a woman whose expensive divorce case she was deciding is asking the state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission to dismiss the charges against her, The Orlando Sentinel reports.
In an August 25, 2014 hearing, Circuit Judge Linda Schoonover was charged with three dozen counts of improper conduct. Schoonover claims that all the charges should be dismissed because three allegations were removed from official court documents, which she believes means the Judicial Qualifications Commission needs to formally restart its entire investigation.
The charges stem from behavior that fellow lawyers and judges described to The Orlando Sentinel as “bizarre,” “inexplicable,” “disruptive,” and “paranoid.”
For example, Schoonover secretly installed a camera in chambers because she believed employees at the courthouse had bugged her office, and she wanted to record video of them retrieving the recording equipment. She contacted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and turned over the video. The FDLE reported that there were men in the crawl space above her courtroom, but they were heating and air conditioning contractors.
She also punished a local real-estate agent with a harsh debt and property ruling after the woman refused her Facebook “friend” request. Schoonover is also accused of refusing to listen to the testimony of a litigant because “he annoyed her.”
Russell Hershkowitz, who is one of 17 lawyers whose cases Schoonover is barred from hearing, said that “she’s got too much power and lacks the ability to control herself.”
Another attorney whose cases Schoonover is barred from hearing, Harry Roen, said “she’s in over her head. She doesn’t know what she’s doing.”
Watch a report via WESH below.
[Judge Shoonover via official Florida court webpage]