Florida JQC In a Position to Evaluate the Testimony and Evidence First-Hand

The Florida Constitution vests this Court with the ultimate responsibility to determine the parameters of judicial misconduct that constitutes prohibited behavior. Specifically, article V, section 12(c)(1) provides that "the supreme court may accept, reject, or modify in whole or in part the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the judicial qualifications commission and it may order that the justice or judge be subjected to appropriate discipline." In In re Graziano, 696 So. 2d 744 (Fla. 1997), the court described that process: Before reporting findings of fact to this Court, the JQC must conclude that they are established by clear and convincing evidence. In re McAllister, 646 So. 2d 173, 177 (Fla. 1994). This Court must then review the findings and determine whether they meet this quantum of proof, a standard which requires more proof than a "preponderance of the evidence" but . . . less than "beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt." In re Davey, 645 So. 2d 398, 404 (Fla. 1994). If the findings meet this intermediate standard, then they are of persuasive force and are given great weight by this Court. See In re LaMotte, 341 So. 2d 513, 516 (Fla. 1977). This is so because the JQC is in a position to evaluate the testimony and evidence first-hand. See In re Crowell, 379 So. 2d 107 (Fla. 1979). However, the ultimate power and responsibility in making a determination rests with this Court. Id. 696 So. 2d at 753.