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A judge violated ethical standards by belittling people in his courtroom, sometimes using a prop that sounds like a flushing toilet to show his displeasure, state investigators charged. The complaint from the Judicial Qualifications Commission said Florida Circuit Judge Sheldon M. Schapiro of Broward County has also asked attorneys, “Are you stupid?” and told one, “Why do I always have to treat you like a school child?” The commission can recommend sanctions to the state supreme court on the charges, which date back to 1996. Schapiro had two weeks to respond. David Bogenschutz, an attorney for the judge, said on Wednesday that the complaint, filed last week, was “a little unusual.” “It really deals more with personalities than it does with the judge’s competence to become and continue to be a judge,” he said. The toilet-flushing machine was used once as a defense attorney argued a rape case. An area used for private conferences is known among attorneys as the “woodshed” for Schapiro’s verbal attacks, which sometimes include profanity, the complaint said. In one case, a prosecutor told the judge that the victim’s mother wanted to speak at a hearing for a man charged with killing her son after running him over with a motorcycle. According to commission staff, the judge’s reaction was: “What do I need to hear from the mother of a dead kid for? All she will tell me is to keep the guy in custody and never let him out.” Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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