The Florida Supreme Court has disbarred a Broward Circuit judge for carrying on a sexual relationship with a prosecutor during a death penalty trial in 2007.
Judge Ana Gardiner lied under oath when questioned about her relationship with then Assistant State Attorney Howard Scheinberg during the trial of Omar Loureiro, whose murder conviction and death sentence were overturned because of the relationship.
"Considering Gardiner's dishonest conduct and the harm that her actions have caused to the administration of justice in a capital first-degree murder case, we conclude that disbarment is the appropriate sanction," the Supreme Court justices said Thursday in their decision.
"Because Gardiner was the presiding judge at the time of her conduct, she had a greater responsibility to preserve the integrity of the judicial process and to ensure that the Loureiro trial was fair."
The Broward Palm Beach New Times broke the story, leading to Gardiner's resignation from the bench in 2010 and Scheinberg's resignation from the state attorney's office. Scheinberg received a two-year suspension last year from the high court, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
After the relationship was made public, Loureiro was granted a new trial. He was subsequently sentenced to life in prison.