The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a Tallahassee-area circuit judge should receive a 60-day suspension and pay a $30,000 fine after she acted as an attorney for her son following his arrest in a shooting incident.
The Supreme Court unanimously approved the discipline for 2nd Judicial Circuit Judge Barbara Hobbs, who also will be required to appear before justices for a public reprimand. A hearing panel of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission issued a 36-page document last year detailing findings and recommendations involving Hobbs, who faced a series of allegations stemming in part from her son’s 2019 arrest after an incident in which he shot through a door at his home and struck a woman.
Hobbs went to the Tallahassee police station and acted as her son’s attorney, including during police questioning of her son, the document said. The hearing panel concluded that Hobbs, who later contacted an attorney to represent her son, violated judicial canons. The panel recommended a 60-day suspension without pay and a reprimand, but the justices Thursday added a $30,000 fine because they said Hobbs did not properly supervise a judicial assistant. That allegation, at least in part, stemmed from the judicial assistant allowing Hobbs’ son to improperly access restricted areas of the courthouse while criminal charges were pending against him, the ruling said.
“Although we are not unsympathetic to Judge Hobbs’ family situation, her violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct demonstrate a failure of judgment and a lack of appropriate boundaries between her judicial office and her personal life that cannot be tolerated in members of our judiciary,” the ruling said. The 2nd Judicial Circuit is made up of Leon, Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Liberty and Wakulla counties.
–News Service of Florida