Brooklyn federal judge defeats misconduct case over Florida condo

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The Brooklyn Federal Courthouse in New York City, U.S., September 24, 2021. REUTERS/Angus Mordant

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  • Judge had complained about construction at his Fort Lauderdale condo
  • Judge sued condo association board members, alleging they falsely accused him of hacking email addresses

(Reuters) - A federal judge in Brooklyn has been cleared of misconduct over allegations he misused judicial resources and capitalized on his position's prestige to complain about construction at his Florida condo building and win a seat on the condo association's board.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' Judicial Council upheld the dismissal of a complaint filed against Senior U.S. District Judge Frederic Block, 87, by a member of the Fort Lauderdale condo association's board.

The council affirmed a Jan. 10 ruling by Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Debra Ann Livingston, who said there was insufficient support to find any misconduct occurred under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act.

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Her decision, as is customary, did not identify the judge, but the case's details matched those of a federal defamation lawsuit Block filed in May in Florida accusing two board members of seeking to "destroy" his reputation by drafting a letter that falsely accused him of computer hacking.

Senior U.S. District Judge Frederic Block in an undated profile photo. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York/Handout via REUTERS

Valdi Licul, a lawyer for Block at Wigdor, declined to confirm the misconduct case was about him. Block's defamation lawsuit is set to go to trial in August. "We’re looking forward to moving the case forward," Licul said.

Avery Dial, a lawyer for condo board members David Matesic and Candyce Abbatt at Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck, did not respond to a request for comment.

The misconduct complaint was filed in March 2021 by the condo board's then-president and accused Block of writing to the board and the condo's management on official judicial letterhead to complain about construction due to hurricane damage and cost overruns.

When Block later emailed an executive at the property management company copying other residents reiterating his concerns, a representative of the company responded with a letter signed by the board raising privacy concerns and accusing him of inappropriately obtaining their email addresses.

He meanwhile successfully ran for seats first on the board of his tower's condominium association and later the master condo association, Livingston wrote.

She said that while Block's use of judicial letterhead may have run afoul of the rules, he addressed the issue by "acknowledging the impropriety and pledging to refrain from similar conduct in the future."

The complaint also alleged his serving as a board member contravened a judicial ethics opinion warning judges to avoid "substantial" roles on condo boards if the duties "involve business-type contacts with outside enterprises."

But Livingston said there was no plausible allegation he was motivated by personal gain and that he had pledged to not seek reelection when his term expires.

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Nate Raymond reports on the federal judiciary and litigation. He can be reached at