The Supreme Court of Florida commanded Leon County Circuit Court Judge Angela Dempsey to appear for a public reprimand due to (1) a YouTube election advertisement entitled “re-elect” when she had been previously appointed to the bench and (2) a flyer claiming she had 20 years of legal experience when she had been admitted to practice in 1994. According to the opinion, she admitted the allegations which the Court concluded “was done for the purpose of bolstering her own experience and credibility to the voting public.”
In August 2008, Judge Dempsey won by nearly 60% of the votes.
We could not find the YouTube video with the title “re-elect” but we did find this election ad. At least one website suggested that the video title was written by the judge’s campaign manager without her knowledge. Another website suggests that “re-elect” is an appropriate term under election laws. However, the YouTube ad coyly mentions “18 years” in an incomplete sentence while the remainder of the advertisement focuses on “experience” — even challenging others for how they “talk” about experience.
This article points out that, in 2008, the judge had 14 years of experience NOT 20 years or even the “18 years” mentioned in the video. Looking at Judge Dempsey’s attorney profile, she graduated from law school in 1993. Presumably, that means she entered law school in 1990 right after college. Is she is calculating “18 years” beginning the moment she stepped in law school? Given that the voiceover simply says the words, “18 years,” with nothing more, the viewer may be left to assume she’s been a member of the Florida Bar for 18 years.
While on the topic of peering into a candidate’s questioned resume, one might wonder if there is a gap of time between her 1993 graduation and 1994 bar admission. Also unclear is how she lists her work as an assistant state attorney beginning in March 1994 when she was not admitted to practice until May 2, 1994.
The Supreme Court did not specifically indicate if a campaigning judge could pack in time during law school as legal experience.