Blogger (not me) accuses Judge Steven Feren of misconduct over attack mailers

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Political blogger Chazz Stevens, the man behind the Pabst Blue Ribbon Festivus pole in the Florida Capitol, has filed a complaint against family court Judge Steven Feren over a mailer sent to voters in support of his re-election effort.

Feren is well known in Broward County as the jurist who gave Robert Baumann shared custody of his 2-year-old daughter, despite pictures showing an increasing anti-government attitude of Baumann’s ex-wife.

The judge was not convinced to give sole custody to the father, even though photos included that of the baby playing in piles of ammunition and laying with Confederate flags.

After Baumann received 50-50 custody, the baby’s mother kidnapped Lilly almost immediately. Three months later, the baby is still missing.

In his re-election bid, Feren faces attorney John Contini, endorsed by the Miami Herald. And although the Sun Sentinel endorsed Feren, the paper made it clear its disapproval with Feren’s performance on the bench.

BrowardBeat writer Buddy Nevins reports on a recent ad against Contini attacking the attorney for a history “of lying and skirting the law,” has had “struggles with alcohol,” and has “right-wing supporters.”

Although accusations like that are nothing new for a campaign, it becomes an issue since the mail piece came from Feren’s campaign, instead of from a third-party committee.

Any material coming directly from a campaign is subject to the Florida Supreme Court’s Code of Judicial Conduct. Candidates cannot “knowingly misrepresent” information about opponents and are required to “maintain the dignity appropriate to judicial office and act in a manner consistent with the impartiality, integrity, and independence of the judiciary.”

Nevins believes Feren’s flier could be in violation of the code, and so does Stevens.

On Friday, Stevens filed an official complaint against Feren with the Judicial Qualifications Commission complaint.

“Thou shall fuck with incumbents, especially incumbent judges,” Stevens tells the Broward/Palm Beach New Times. “It’s questionable, so I spent five minutes of my life signing out the complaint.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.