It has made news, and to some shocking news that Gisele Pollack, who oversees Broward County’s misdemeanor drug court, is herself headed for rehabilitation. However, this case is extraordinary in that Gisele Pollack is the kind of judge the country needs more – she is compassionate and more worried about helping people than throwing rulebooks at them. And, when she first campaigned for the post of Broward County Judge in 2004, she was open about her alcoholism.
Pollack, 55, behaved erratically in the court last Tuesday, and seemed to be crying. She was later seen to be screaming and yelling at her judicial assistant. She stayed off the bench on Wednesday, returned to work on Thursday, and declared that she was taking two weeks off starting Friday to attend an intense outpatient program.
She acknowledged a relapse of her alcoholism and has determined to seek professional help.
According to those who know her, Pollack recently lost her mother and there is another close family member struggling with a severe medical issue. These might have contributed to Pollock’s depression and triggered a relapse.
Within a year of being elected in 2004, Pollack established the misdemeanor drug court in Broward County. Her program allows offenders to have their charges dismissed and their drug records to be erased if they undergo six months of treatment.
Unlike other judges presiding on the fates of addicts, Pollack is someone who understands the severe pressures of addiction, the boons of rehabilitation – that it can be done, and how close former addicts are always to having a relapse.
Lawyers in her court say she’s one of the most firm but compassionate judges out there. She’s been a judge for nine years and held in great esteem in the court both by the bar and the bench in Broward County.
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