ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A central Florida judge who jailed a domestic violence victim for not showing up to testify against her alleged abuser last summer has agreed she acted in poor judgment and will accept punishment.
Seminole County Judge Jerri Collins and the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission reached a plea agreement of a public reprimand for her actions after charges were formally made Wednesday with the Florida Supreme Court.
During a July 30 hearing, Collins sentenced the crying Lake Mary woman to three days in jail for contempt.
Alex Williams, the commission’s assistant general counsel, says the Supreme Court will now decide whether it will accept or reject the agreement. If the Supreme Court accepts the recommendation, Collins will have to appear before the state’s top court in Tallahassee to be formally reprimanded.
The case drew public attention when it was first made public in October after an Orlando television station broadcast the six-minute hearing and a complaint was formally charged against Collins, 54, for violating four of seven ethical standards codes contained in the Florida code of judicial conduct.
Collins became upset and berated the victim after she skipped out on a subpoena to testify against her accuser.
The victim blamed her absence on depression and anxiety when confronted by Collins. Without her testimony, the state’s case was severely weakened.
“You think you’re going to have anxiety now?” Collins told the victim. “You haven’t seen anxiety.”
“You disobeyed a court order knowing that this was not going to turn out well for the state,” Collins also to the victim.
Collins found the victim guilty of contempt of court and ordered her to serve three days in jail.
Charges were not filed against Collins until October after six-minute video footage of her berating the victim on July 30 were played by an Orlando news station.
In the original complaint, it was said that Collins behaved aggressively and violently toward the victim. Collins has been a Seminole County judge for 10 years and prior to that was an assistant state attorney.