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Marijuana Charge Against Retired Broward Judge is Dropped


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After passing six months of random drug tests, retired Broward Circuit Judge Lawrence Korda can put his misdemeanor marijuana charge behind him.

Prosecutors dropped the charge Thursday, said Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Joseph Centorino. "He wasn't treated more lightly," Centorino said. "He was treated somewhat more severely than someone else who might have been charged with this same crime."

The marijuana citation did not end up in a formal conviction, but it did cost the Family Court judge his seat on the bench. Rather than face a judicial inquiry over the matter, the 28-year jurist opted to retire July 2. Neither Korda nor his attorney, Mike Dutko, could be reached to comment Friday evening.

In March, Hollywood police officers ticketed Korda, 60, after they saw him smoking a joint under a tree in Stanley Goldman Park.

In May, Korda and prosecutors fashioned an agreement typical for a first-time offender accused of marijuana possession, Centorino said. Gov. Charlie Crist assigned the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office to prosecute the case.

A typical agreement would have amounted to completion of a drug and alcohol awareness program and six months of successful random drug testing, Centorino said. Added to Korda's duties were a public apology, completion of an additional drug program and 25 hours of community service, Centorino said. Because Korda complied with those conditions, the charge was dropped Centorino said.

If Korda had failed a drug test, he would have faced the charge and possible jail time.

At his May 7 court date, Korda apologized and accepted responsibility for his "actions and poor judgment." Within days of Korda's citation, the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called for Korda's removal from the bench, saying he set "a poor example."

The group filed a complaint with the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the state agency that polices judicial conduct.

The case also sparked national attention because it came within weeks of Korda's brief involvement with the paternity battle over Anna Nicole Smith's daughter.

It also fueled criticism of the Broward judiciary, which was reeling from complaints of judicial insensitivity and now-retired Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin's antics while presiding over the battle for Smith's remains.

Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2007 Sun-Sentinel Company
Contact: letters@sun-sentinel.com
Website: South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade news, sports, jobs, cars and real estate -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com
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