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A foul-mouthed Florida judge is facing suspension without pay after telling a defendant: ‘I asked you a f**king question, a**hole.’
Judge Wayne Culver of Seminole County could be out of work for 60 days following two instances where he was rude to defendants.
The motion to suspend the judge came months after the February 10, 2022, incident, where Culver angrily threatened defendant Kevin Newton, 50, with contempt of court for disrupting a proceeding.
Newton can be seen in the video entering the court late and proceeded to look in both directions for a seat and muttering: ‘Everything is taken,’ despite the various open spaces in the pews.
Newton’s sister Sabrina told Fox 35 Orlando that there was ‘blue tape on the benches, so we didn’t know where to sit because of COVID.’
However, the father-of-two lashed out: ‘Sir, I’m doing something. Can you shut up and sit down?’
Newton replied: ‘Absolutely. I’m just trying to find a seat.’
Culver sat stiffly in his judge’s robes with his hands crossed over one another on the desk and angrily retorted: ‘That’s not shutting up.’
Video footage showed Newton making his way through the pews and choosing a spot off-camera, keeping quiet.
Culver, who has only been on the county’s bench since January 2021, was unhappy with the defendant’s lack of response and threatened to charge him with contempt of court and to ‘go to jail,’ to which Newton remained silent.
‘I asked you a f**king question, a**hole,’ Culver, who was an assistant public defender for 11 years prior, snapped. Newton politely replied that he didn’t want to go to jail and the judge replied: ‘Then shut up.’
Judge Wayne Culver could be out of work for 60 days following two instances where he was rude to defendants, including one where he said: ‘I asked you a f**king question, a**hole’
The proceeding continued on without any other interruptions in the short 50-second clip.
When Newton’s case was ready to be presented to Culver, he admonished the defendant and told him to ‘show up on time at the next court date,’ documents filed by the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission read.
Newton reportedly told the judge that he was ‘sorry’ and ‘did not want to interrupt your courtroom.’
The judge, who graduated from Boston’s Suffolk University School of Law in 2000, then reportedly apologized to the alleged criminal and told him: ‘That’s the first time I’ve lost my temper with somebody,’ according to the judicial documents.
In a meeting with the Judicial Qualifications Commissions, Culver admitted his actions were ‘undignified and discourteous.’
‘He regrets that his conduct reflects negatively on the judiciary and the judicial system,’ the documents read.
The motion to suspend the judge came months after the February 10, 2022, incident, where Culver angrily threatened defendant Kevin Newton, 50, (pictured in light-colored button-down) with contempt of court for disrupting a proceeding.
Newton was looking for a seat and told his sister: ‘Everything is taken,’ as parts of the pews had blue tape on them for social distancing. Culver snapped at him and threatened to charge him with contempt of court
Newton’s sister Sabrina, who was with him at court that day, told Fox 35 Orlando that her brother choose not to speak out of fear or retaliation.
‘This judge let his personal feelings take over, she told Fox 35 Orlando. ‘I was scared to react in any kind of way because I didn’t want to go to jail!’
Culver was also under investigation for a January 25, 2022, incident, where he jailed another male defendant for more than 500 days for contempt of court.
He was presiding over a ‘final injunction’ in a dating violence case when the shackled respondent, who was representing himself, interrupted the female petitioner.
The respondent reportedly told the judge: ‘That’s not correct, sir.’
Culver was having none of it and told the respondent that every time he interrupts the petitioner or the court again, he will tack on a contempt of court charge, which equals 179 days in jail, and add on an additional six-month sentence.
From being arrested at 18 to expletives in the courtroom
Judge Wayne Culver seems to have a spotless record on his social media pages, with nothing but dotting photos of his two young children and his loving wife and supporting his friends endeavors.
However, before Culver was deciding criminals’ fates as a Seminole County judge, he got his own taste of jail at the ripe age of 18, but only for a night.
The former public defender told the Orlando Sentinel in 2018 that he was arrested in 1987 for stealing his friend’s car as a prank.
The young Culver said he had hopped into the driver’s seat of his friend’s car and took off, driving around until he accidentally rolled into a pit of sand near a construction site, he told the Orlando Sentinel in 2018.
He was arrested for reckless driving and vehicle theft and spent the night in jail.
‘I was kind of playing a prank on my friend, but the prank was on me,’ he told the Sentinel.
‘I spent a night in this jail and I never came back [to jail]. You can make up for it. Do bad things, you make up for it.’
The Jacksonville native has never been arrested since.
He went on to own a private law firm for almost four years before spending 11 years as a public defending.
He now resides as a Seminole County judge since January 2021.
He also told the respondent that what he was saying would be ‘the most important words you’ll ever hear as long as you live as a[n] organism on this planet,’ the documents read.
‘Every time you interrupt her, or any time you interrupt me – and you’re not even letting me finish my sentence – every time you do it, I’m going to hold you in contempt and I’m gonna give you 179 days in jail. And every time you do it, I’m gonna add a consecutive six-month sentence – you keep on interrupting us, you’re going to have to have the jail renamed after you,’ Culver snapped.
When it was time for the alleged abuser to make his statement to the court, Culver reportedly told him he had ‘reached the end of my patience’ and didn’t ‘believe anything that you’re telling me.’
Culver then cut the hearing short and issued a ruling that would prevent the man from making any further statements or presenting evidence, the documents said.
He later filed that the alleged abuser was in ‘direct criminal contempt’ and sentenced him to 537 days in jail for contempt. He also failed to file the ‘required written judgment of guilty with specific factual findings’ required by law and failed to tell the defendant he could appeal the decision within 30 days.
However, moments after issuing the 500-day sentence, he reportedly realized – while still on the bench – that it was ‘legally improper’ and changed the consecutive ruling to concurrent, reducing the sentence to 179 days.
Culver vacated the sentence and dropped the contempt orders on May 12, according to court documents.
Attorney Mark O’Mara, who knew Culver before he was on the bench, said he ‘personally’ liked the man and thought he was a ‘good judge’ having a ‘bad day.’
‘The problem with judges, like lawyers, you have to be good even on a bad day,’ he told Fox 35 Orlando.
The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission issued a recommendation for Culver to complete an ‘anger management course, sensitivity training, and professionalism training’ during his unpaid suspension.
The final decision is pending and will be made by the Florida Supreme Court.