Florida Supreme Court upholds St. Lucie judge’s suspension


The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a month-long suspension for a St. Lucie County judge who refused to step down from the cases of a lawyer and former political rival he’d previously jailed twice for contempt.

The decision against St. Lucie County Judge Phil Yacucci comes nearly four months after the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commision recommended the 30-day punishment because of his decision to stop recusing himself from cases involving attorney Stephen Smith.

Smith unsuccessfully challenged Yacucci’s bid for re-election in a contentious campaign three years ago. But the two had a tumultuous history even before then, with Yacucci once jailing Smith for five days after finding him in contempt of court for misconduct.

After the election, Yacucci recused himself from cases involving Smith, but began denying such Smith’s requests to keep him off his cases in September 2016, according to the formal notice of charges.

In written responses, Yacucci denied violating judicial canons, urging that his actions were part of “more important larger issues” involving Smith and his employer, the Ticket Clinic, according to a court document.

The high court vehemently disagreed. In fact, the only two judges who disagreed with the majority opinion, Justices Peggy Quince and Barbara Pariente, did so only to express that they wanted to make Yacucci’s punishment even harsher — a suspension of at least 90 days.

“Most assuredly, if an attorney undertook the type of cumulative actions as occurred here, this Court would have imposed a suspension longer than thirty days,” Quince wrote. “Just as we expect attorneys to treat judges with respect, judges have an obligation to treat attorneys with respect.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Lake Worth firm sues over worker’s death in FIU bridge collapse
Lake Worth firm sues over worker’s death in FIU bridge collapse

A Lake Worth law firm on Wednesday filed suit on behalf of the widow of a 37-year-old Sunrise construction worker who died when a $14.2 million pedestrian walkway at Florida International University collapsed in March. Navaro Brown, who was working for a company that provides products to strengthen bridges, was among six who died when the 950-ton bridge...
NEW: Delray man, 27, killed in Boca Raton vehicle crash
NEW: Delray man, 27, killed in Boca Raton vehicle crash

A 27-year-old Delray Beach man has been identified as the victim of a fatal crash Monday night in Boca Raton.  City police said Jay Jonas died after his motor scooter was struck by another vehicle in the 7500 block of North Dixie Highway. Jonas died at Delray Medical Center. According to a police statement, Jonas was driving south on North...
La Mancha traffic calming plans in Royal Palm Beach: How to learn more

A busy residential thoroughfare in Royal Palm Beach could receive some relief from speeding vehicles looking to avoid the busy intersection of Royal Palm Beach and Okeechobee boulevards. La Mancha Avenue is eligible for traffic-calming measures, according to a survey completed for the village by consultant Simmons and White. The survey also reviewed...
PHOTOS: From 35th Special Olympics Torch Run in Palm Beach County
PHOTOS: From 35th Special Olympics Torch Run in Palm Beach County

As Bob Mooney stood in a parking lot Wednesday morning amid a sea of law enforcement vehicles and running enthusiasts clad in workout gear, he recalled the origins of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. “I can tell you that the first year, I ran the torch by myself,” said Mooney, who has coordinated the event for all 35...
Fired FAU professor, who denies Sandy Hook, blasts federal judge
Fired FAU professor, who denies Sandy Hook, blasts federal judge

Fired Florida Atlantic University professor James Tracy blasted a federal judge on Wednesday, a day after she rejected his request for a new trial on his claims that the school robbed him of his First Amendment rights by dismissing him for expressing his beliefs that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and other national tragedies never happened...
More Stories