Gisele Pollack is judge in Broward County, Florida, who operates a drug court, particularly for marijuana offenders. The idea of her court, as with drug courts around the country, is to steer minor and nonviolent drug offenders into treatment programs rather than slapping them with criminal penalties.
Unfortunately, Pollack is now facing some possible criminal penalties of her own. The 56-year-old judge was arrested for driving under the influence on May 1, after she plowed her vehicle into a car that had come to a stop, sending the other driver to the hospital with a neck injury and knocking him out cold.
When police arrested her, she broke down in sobs and wailed that she did not want to go to jail. Officers reported smelling alcohol on her breath and finding containers of booze in her vehicle after the accident which took place at about 10:50 pm Thursday on West Sunrise Boulevard in Plantation, Florida.
The other driver, 20-year-old Dylan Razack of White Plains, N.Y., was said in a police report to have been unconscious for several minutes as a result of the accident, but no further report of his condition was available.
The incident is not the first time Gisele Pollack's battle with alcoholism has spilled over into public view, either. She was already on a voluntary leave of absence after she showed up drunk for court — for the second time in four months.
She arrived at work in a drunken state in December, and told staff members, "F*** you, you're fired!" when they attempted to keep her from taking her seat on the bench in her inebriated condition. A fellow judge was called in and removed Pollack from the bench.
In March, she showed up drunk again, after which she put herself on leave and checked into a treatment facility. But clearly she has some work to do.
Her colleagues have been compassionate toward her throughout her battle with the bottle, even suggesting that her own struggles with addiction make her especially qualified to preside over a drug court. But even her friends now wonder if the latest incident marks the end of the line for Pollack's judicial career.
"I think the governor and the (Judicial Qualifications Committee) are probably gonna say, 'Enough is enough. You need to get this thing under control,'" said public defender Howard Finkelstein, a longtime friend of Pollack. "Whether or not the future will allow her to come back as a judge and sit on the bench, I think it's a little too early to tell. I know people who know her are praying for her because this is somebody that just wants to help and to give to other humans."