Dale Ross, chief judge for the Florida circuit court in Broward County for 16 years, stepped down last spring after a year of embarrassing scandals, gaffes, and bad behavior by his judges. Many observers say it would not have happened if not for an online phenomenon known as the the JAA Blog, says the National Law Journal. That blog hammered Ross daily and reported on such incidents as a judge arrested for smoking pot in a park, another judge making an off-color sexual remark, and another judge allegedly taking a loan from a defense lawyer appearing before him.
The JAA Blog was started in 2006 by criminal defense lawyers fed up with the way things were being run in the Broward courthouse. They believed that it operated like a “good ol’ boys network” rather than the second-largest county court in Florida. “I have strong feelings about what is going on in Broward,” said attorney Bill Gelin. “People are upset about the ways things are being done in the criminal justice system. So we formed a group and then thought, ‘Why not have a blog?’ ” The Broward blog is one of a handful of legal blogs started in South Florida in the past two years that have shone a spotlight on the justice system. Supporters credit the blogs with providing valuable information about inner workings of the court system, and bringing change. Critics say the blogs can be venues for inaccurate information and unsubstantiated personal attacks.