Judge Reversed On Appeal

From Attorney Ken Padowitz

Samantha Joseph, Daily Business Review

February 12, 2015

Broward Circuit Judge Matthew Destry received a tongue lashing Wednesday from the Fourth District Court of Appeal for refusing to consider bond for Stephanie Kraft, a former Broward School Board member, after she was convicted of official misconduct.

Destry ordered Kraft into custody Dec. 11 immediately after a jury found her guilty of official misconduct but acquitted her of bribery, unlawful compensation and conspiracy charges.

Defense attorney Kenneth Padowitz of Fort Lauderdale unsuccessfully asked to have her released on bond since she was free during trial.

“The judge would not release her,” he said. “He refused to give any written reasons as to why he would not release her on bond.”

Kraft, who served on the School Board from 1999 to 2010, was accused of slipping a housing development proposal on the board’s agenda and leaving the room before the vote. Prosecutors charged Tamarac developers Bruce and Shawn Chait hired Kraft’s husband as a consultant on the project and Kraft failed to disclose the relationship to the board.

Kraft was held at the Broward County Jail for nine days until her sentencing when Destry said an outpouring of support led him to spare her further jail time. On Dec. 19, he sentenced her to five years of probation and community service.

“The issue of petitioner’s detention may now be moot, but we retain jurisdiction because the issue ‘is capable of repetition yet evading review,’ ” Fourth DCA Judges Martha Warner, Matthew Stevenson and Cory Ciklin wrote in an unsigned opinion. “If the record was clear that the judge had silently exercised such discretion, we would find that action arbitrary and capricious under the circumstances of this case.”

“The court appears to have refused to exercise its discretion to consider release on bond pending sentencing,” the panel continued. “The court provided no reasoning and did not render a written order on the defendant’s motions.”

Original Story Here: Daily Business Review