TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CN) - The Florida Supreme Court publically reprimanded Judge Cheryl Aleman for denying three motions to recuse herself from a murder trial, despite acknowledging that her conduct at trial was "arrogant, discourteous and impatient."
On the second day of jury selection, the defense moved to recuse the 17th Judicial Circuit judge based on her alleged "aggressive and intimidating questioning" of potential jurors.
Aleman gave the defense team 15 minutes to prepare the motion and threatened to hold the attorneys in contempt if they failed to meet the deadline.
It was unreasonable and improper to give the defense attorneys only 15 minutes to prepare a written motion of recusal in a first-degree murder case, where the state sought the death penalty, the state high court ruled.
"In addition, Judge Aleman's use or threat to use her contempt power is even more unsettling," the court wrote. "Judge Aleman's threat of contempt was unnecessary and harmful under the circumstances."
The justices issued a public reprimand and ordered Aleman to pay the costs of the investigation and prosecution.
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