Attorney for Judge Colin’s son calls Palm Beach Post reporter to testify in hearing
3:03 p.m Friday, May 27, 2016 Health & Fitness
In a highly unusual move, the family attorney for the son of embattled Circuit Judge Martin Colin called a Palm Beach Post reporter as a witness in a court hearing about the care of the judge’s grandson. The move threatened to block John Pacenti from covering the hearing because witnesses are not allowed in the courtroom until they testify.
Neither Pacenti nor The Post received notice or a subpoena seeking Pacenti’s testimony, but Broward County Circuit Judge Alfred J. Horowitz said Pacenti could not cover the proceeding unless he answered questions by attorney John Schutz.
When the judge called Pacenti to swear him in, Pacenti relented and agreed to answer one question about a sentence in a blog posted Friday morning. Pacenti told the judge he felt the move was “chilling coverage” of the case, asked for a hearing and presented case law to the judge, but the judge ordered him out to the hallway.
“I didn’t know what I was going to miss” while the hearing went on, he said. “I was intimidated.”
Pacenti wrote a series of investigative stories this year about Judge Colin and his wife, Betsy Savitt, a professional guardian, who has taken thousands in fees from her wards before a judge approved them. The series, Guardianship: A Broken Trust, showed that while Colin did not hear his wife’s cases, his colleagues in the south county courthouse did and approved her fees. He was moved to the main courthouse to avoid any appearance of favoritism.
The Friday hearing concerned a number of issues between Colin’s son Matthew and the mother of his son, Kacie Herrick. After Herrick said she feared the judge’s influence in any hearings held in front of Colin’s colleagues, the case was transferred to an out-of-county judge.
The question put to Pacenti on the stand pertained to a sentence in a story published on this blog Friday morning that came from court documents. The sentence said this, referring to Herrick’s attorneys: “The attorneys hope that Herrick can get approval of a proposed parenting plan that will allow her to move out of Florida to Maine where her parents live and away from Judge Colin’s family. [b]Schultz wanted to know whether it was a direct quote from her attorneys. It wasn’t.[/b]