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Embattled Northeast Florida circuit judge fights to stay on bench

Judge Scott DuPont (Photo courtesy: Seventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida's website)
Judge Scott DuPont (Photo courtesy: Seventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida's website)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Northeast Florida circuit judge accused of improper conduct during a 2016 election campaign and inappropriate actions while handling cases should not be removed from the bench, his attorney argued this week in a 40-page document filed with the state Supreme Court.

Judge Scott DuPont, who serves in the 7th Judicial Circuit, faces the possibility of being removed after a recommendation last month from a hearing panel of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission.

The panel alleged, in part, that DuPont published false allegations online about his 2016 election challenger, Malcolm Anthony, and Anthony’s family members.

The report also took issue with actions on the bench, including DuPont changing the times of first-appearance hearings in criminal cases during Memorial Day weekend in 2016 to accommodate his campaign schedule.

In the document filed Wednesday, DuPont’s attorney, Rutledge Liles, pointed to character witnesses for DuPont, including other judges.

Liles acknowledged that DuPont will be “subject to sanctions” but wrote that he should not be removed from office.

“Judge DuPont has admitted and apologized for the mistakes he made,” Liles wrote. “Given the undisputed fact that the only testimony regarding his present fitness to remain in office has been uniformly and overwhelmingly positive, we request that this (Supreme) Court allow him to continue to serve the Seventh Judicial Circuit.”

The Supreme Court has ultimate authority to discipline judges.

The 7th Judicial Circuit includes Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia counties.