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Leon County Judge Barbara Hobbs Accused Of Wrongdoing In Representing Son

A school zone in Tallahassee
Valerie Crowder
A school zone in Tallahassee

A state investigative panel is alleging wrongdoing by a Leon County circuit judge who acted as her son’s attorney after he was arrested in a shooting incident. Judge Barbara Hobbs faces a series of allegations that she violated judicial canons, according to a notice of charges filed Tuesday in the Florida Supreme Court by a panel of the state Judicial Qualifications Commission.

The allegations, in part, stem from a July incident in which Hobbs’ son was accused of shooting a woman through a closed door at his residence. Hobbs went to the Tallahassee police station and told investigators that she was representing her son as his attorney.

“Acting as your son's legal counsel, you requested and were permitted to consult with your son in the police interview room outside the presence of investigators and with the audio recording turned off,” the notice of charges, which is addressed to Hobbs, said. “You were also able to be present with your son during his formal interview with investigators. During the interview, you participated by asking clarifying questions, and eventually telling your son to stop speaking.”

At the time she represented her son, Hobbs was assigned to preside over felony cases in Leon County, the notice said. Hobbs is a judge in the 2nd Judicial Circuit, which includes Tallahassee and surrounding areas. Tuesday’s notice said her son’s case has been assigned to the 3rd Judicial Circuit, and he has been charged with attempted second-degree murder. The notice also made other allegations against Hobbs, including that she improperly failed to recuse herself from cases involving an attorney who represented her son on an earlier misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence.

“Your failure to recuse yourself from criminal cases where the defendant's attorney of record was (at the same time) also representing your son in a separate criminal matter was improper, and violates” judicial canons, the notice said.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission oversees investigations of judges, with the Supreme Court having final say on disciplinary issues.