Broward Circuit Judge John Frusciante, chief judge of the dependency and juvenile delinquency divisions, is leaving the bench in October.
Frusciante, who did not return calls by deadline Friday, did not state his reasons for leaving in his resignation letter to Gov. Charlie Crist, saying, “I now submit to you my intention to resign from that position effective Oct. 29.”
However, two attorneys who did not want to be identified said Frusciante may have health problems. A pianist who graduated from the Juilliard School of Music, Frusciante complained to attorneys about a hand injury and took at least one leave of absence.
Chief Circuit Judge Victor Tobin did not return calls for comment by deadline.
Frusciante has served in every division in the circuit during his 20-year tenure on the bench. Before becoming a judge, he was in private practice and a prosecutor in the sex crimes and child abuse unit.
Lawyers who practiced before Frusciante called him a zealous advocate for children’s rights, particularly victims of sexual abuse. A director of the Florida chapter of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, he recently was named to the Gabriel Myers Work Group by the secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families to explore issues raised by children taking psychotropic medications in the wake of a child’s suicide.
“He cared so much about individual children and cases,” said attorney Howard Talenfeld of Colodny Fass Talenfeld Kalinsky & Abate in Fort Lauderdale and president of Florida’s Children First, a statewide group of child advocates. “He always saw the systemic problems and always brought the child welfare community together to solve them.”
Christopher Neilson, a Hollywood attorney and immediate past president of the Broward County Bar Association, said Frusciante “is very conscientious, hard-working, intelligent, and a fair and even-handed judge.”
The Broward Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission is seeking applications to replace Frusciante, father of former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante II.
Candidates must have been members of The Florida Bar for at least five years, registered voters and Broward County residents before taking office. Applications due Wednesday should include a recent photograph, letters of recommendation, tax returns for the last three years or a current financial statement with financial history. They should be sent to Judicial Nominating Commission chair Jamie Finizio Bascombe at Finizio & Finizio Law Offices, 106 SE Ninth St., Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33316.
Julie Kay can be reached at (305) 347-6685.