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Broward Drug Court Judge Enters Rehab

Judge Gisele Pollack, a self-admitted alcoholic, has suffered a relapse after media outlets alleged drunken behavior in court.

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By Shawn Dwyer

12/23/13

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A judge who oversees Broward County’s misdemeanor drug court has returned to rehab for an apparent relapse following a bizarre incident last Tuesday while presiding over the court.

Judge Gisele Pollack, who has admitted to battling alcoholism in the past, allegedly showed up to work drunk last week and abruptly ended the session after only 90 minutes. According to witnesses, she was later seen yelling at her assistant and demanding that they return her car keys. Though she was absent from work the next day, Pollack did return to the bench on Thursday, though she declined to cite specifics about the incident to the media. “I have some health issues,” she told the Sun Sentinel. “I’m going into treatment for them. I have two weeks off starting [Friday]. I’m going to be in an intense outpatient program.”

Eric Schwartzreich, an attorney advising her on the incident, reported that Pollack had been suffering from emotional problems in recent days. “She’s had some severe personal tragedy in her life,” he said. “Her mother recently passed away, and they were very close. It’s been really devastating for her.” Howard Finkelstein, a Broward public defender and friend who also happens to be a recovering addict, offered his own sympathies to Pollack. “To those who are not addicts, they view the alcoholic as someone who is lacking in willpower,” he said. “It’s not true. This is a disease. And all of us are one drink or one drug away from a relapse. Relapse is often a part of the process. It’s what reconfirms that sobriety is the only path.”

Apparently, Broward judges are as troubled as the accused that stand before them. This past November, Judge Cynthia Imperato was arrested for DUI, while in 2007, Judge Lawrence Korda was caught smoking pot in a park. In 2001, Judge Joyce Julian was found drunk, disoriented, and naked from the waist down while wandering the hallways of a resort hosting the Florida Conference of Circuit Judges.

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