When Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jaimie Goodman decided to run for a second term, he knew he would be hounded by allegations that he runs his courtroom like a petty tyrant.
After blasting his courtroom demeanor in two Palm Beach County Bar Association judicial polls that were conducted two years apart, attorneys throughout the county lined up to support his opponents.
“I’ve been dressed down plenty of times (by judges) over the years. I’m embarrassed, but I don’t leave feeling like I’ve been demeaned,” said veteran Palm Beach Gardens civil trial attorney Stephan LeClainche.
“If you’re not prepared, the judge should point it out to you, but you don’t have to be rude and condescending and nasty,” LeClainche continued. “He is just nasty.”
While LeClainche said he’s never appeared before Goodman, he and other attorneys said the stories about his courtroom antics are legion.
Young lawyers leaving the courtroom near tears. Clients confused about what their lawyers did wrong. Veteran lawyers chastised for using the wrong word.
“He’s got such a trigger temper,” LeClainche said. “It’s not something substantively important. It’s just something that’s gotten under his thin skin.”
Some lawyers who have appeared before him declined to comment publicly, saying they worry that any negative comments could impact their cases.
Like LeClainche, defense attorney Gregg Lerman said he’s heard the same stories over and over. “I’ve talked to lots of lawyers and I’ve never heard a good thing in their descriptions of Judge Goodman,” he said.
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