Ethics Complaint Filed against Florida Judge for Bizarre Behavior

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Summary: Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission files ethics complaint against Seminole County judge Linda D. Schoonover over "bizarre behavior."

The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission sent a notice of ethics complaint this week to Seminole County Judge Linda Schoonover over her pattern of bizarre behavior. The notice of formal charges observes that the Investigative Panel of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission found that probable cause exists for formal proceedings against the judge for violating several provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Schoonover was elected to the Circuit Court for the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida in 2010. The notice observes, "From the time of your election to the present, you have demonstrated a pattern of behavior which is inexplicable, appears to demonstrate instability, and is disruptive to the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit."

According to court documents, Judge Schoonover had contacted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to report concerns that her office was bugged and that Alan Dickey, the then Chief Judge of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit was trying to influence her decisions. She also complained to law enforcement that the Chief Judge had, in concert with others, directed case numbers to be switched to enhance his reported case count, thereby creating a larger workload than other judges for Schoonover.

The FDLE acted upon her report and investigated the issue, interviewed courthouse personnel, researched the case management system, reviewed documents and reported nothing was amiss.

Schoonover had also told the law enforcement that she had installed a security camera in her chambers which confirmed people wrongfully entered them. Upon investigation the law enforcement found that the only persons who entered her chambers were maintenance personnel of the court.

The list is long. Apparently, even before she became a circuit judge, but after she was elected, circuit judge Kenneth Lester was appointed as her mentor. But Schoonover repeatedly expressed her distrust of the mentor, refused to accept his suggestions or recommendations and "repeatedly expressed paranoia about other judges and how they would treat" her because she defeated their colleague in election.

 Besides comments on the Facebook and Facebook friend requests to litigants before her, Schoonover has also been accused of other improper conduct including exhibiting lack of professional competence. One of the allegations against her reads that she assigned psychological evaluations in all cases to a particular individual expert, even though other similarly qualified experts were available and even when both parties to a matter agreed to other experts.

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