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Florida jury panel dismissed over clerk of courts comment

Broward County Clerk of Courts Brenda Forman spoke to the jury pool Monday morning, quipping that those who do the crime have to serve the time.
Credit: Roy Grogan - stock.adobe.com

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A panel of South Florida jurors was sent home after defense lawyers claimed that they were potentially poisoned by welcoming comments from the clerk of courts. 

Broward County Clerk of Courts Brenda Forman spoke to the jury pool Monday morning, quipping that those who do the crime have to serve the time.

Her office says the comments were taken “out of context," but defense lawyers argue that the comments may encourage guilty verdicts, the Sun Sentinel reports.

The issue was raised by Assistant Public Defender Melinda Blostein, who was in the panel of prospective jurors on Monday. She wrote a notarized letter notifying officials about the comments. 

In response, the clerk's office said Forman speaks to jury pools whenever possible, but in this case, the comments were taken out of context and potentially misunderstood. 

Nevertheless, prosecutors asked Forman to revise her welcoming presentation, according to the Sun Sentinel.

The newspaper adds that more than 300 jurors heard the statements, but the only ones who were dismissed were 22 assigned to a case in which involved an employee of Forman.

This isn't the first time Clerk of Courts Brenda Forman has run into problems because of her comments.

In July 2020, Yahoo! News reports Forman apologized after she faced criticism for posting what she believed to be an Adolf Hitler photo and quote on Facebook.

The quote and photo both turned out to be phony, but that didn't absolve Forman of criticism, including from the Broward congressional delegation.

“In retrospect, there were better ways I could have expressed my thoughts on how important it is for our society to work together to ensure that no one is deprived of their rights. As a woman of color and an elected official, I have worked hard to use my platform to advocate for a variety of community causes. Most of my efforts have met with success," Forman said in a Facebook post obtained by Yahoo! News.

Forman added that she took “full responsibility,” that a “valuable lesson has been learned." She said people could “rest assured that nothing similar will occur again.”