Florida judge accused of back-room deal

Judge Matthew Destry is in hot water with the state Supreme Court and could lose his job.

In November of 2015, Judge Destry of Broward County sentenced defendant Herbert Smith Jr. to 60 years in prison for violating his parole and driving with a suspended license.  Some believe the sentence was too harsh.

"There was a lot of public outrage -- community outrage -- that a black individual was sentenced to 60 years in prison for basically driving with a suspended license," said attorney Anthony Rickman, who reviewed the case for FOX 13.

But instead of a do-over and re-sentencing Smith, documents show Judge Destry decided to score some political points. 

"That's a big problem for this judge going forward," continued Rickman.

The judge who is in a heated political race to keep his job is fighting for every vote.  In a judicial candidate forum this summer, one of his opponents went on the attack.

"If a judge requires you to be there at 8:30 in the morning, the judge should be there at 8:30 in the morning, not 9:30 or 10 o'clock," Barbara Duffy said.

Hoping to get the black vote this November, the judge had dinner with Vicente Thrower, who once worked on his campaign, and the Rev. Allan Jackson.  They met at Mango's Restaurant and discussed changing Smith's sentence in exchange for political support.

"It looks like a back-room deal -- let's call it what it is -- a back-room deal to change the sentence of a defendant," offered Rickman.

The judge ended up suspending Smith's 60-year sentence and released him on probation.  But it may not go so well for the judge,

The state Supreme Court will decide his fate.

"It's going to be very hard for this judge to remain on the bench after what these allegations say," Rickman added.

So far, there's been no written response by Judge Destry on these allegations.

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