Supreme Court publicly reprimands North Florida circuit judge

With Chief Justice Jorge Labarga pointing to campaign violations and “ethical misconduct,” the state Supreme Court on Tuesday publicly reprimanded a North Florida circuit judge.

The Supreme Court also imposed a six-month suspension of Judge Andrew Decker of the 3rd Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee and Taylor counties.

Decker was accused, in part, of campaign violations, because he said he was affiliated with the Republican Party while running for the judgeship.

Judicial candidates are barred from linking themselves to political parties.

Also, the reprimand involved misconduct before Decker became a judge, including not disclosing a conflicting attorney-client relationship, Labarga said from the bench Tuesday.

“Judge Decker, the acts at issue in this case unquestionably involved conduct unbecoming a member of the judiciary. It was not a single incident, and it indicates a troubling pattern that we believe must be called to your attention in a very harsh way,” Labarga said to Decker, who stood silently during the reprimand.