Category Archives: Community Commitment

Leon County Guide to County and Special District Elections (November, 2014)

Campaigning in Leon County during 2012 early voting

Campaigning in Leon County during 2012 early voting

Remember to vote early.  Here is a list of all Early Voting Sites in Leon County.

Thank you for visiting the Adventure Lawyer’s “Leon County Guide to County and Special District Elections.”

This guide is intended to help undecided voters throughout Leon County identify relevant information relating to potentially otherwise unknown candidates when deciding which individual most deserves your vote. It lists all candidates for each contested county, judicial, and special district board election appearing on the November 4, 2014 ballot.

Using the Guide

Campaign Websites

Directly under each candidate’s name is a link to their campaign website or their campaign Facebook page.  If a candidate has both, the link generally attaches to their website which will then contains its own link to their campaign Facebook page, if they have one. If I was unable to find a candidate campaign website or a campaign Facebook page, there will be the statement “No Website Found.”

Campaign Finance Records

Directly under each candidate’s link to their campaign website or Facebook page, or the words “No Website Found,” is, when available, a link to each candidate’s most recent campaign finance report as of October 30, 2014. This link is titled “Latest Campaign Finance Report.”  If I was unable to find a posting of their most recent (or any) posting of the candidate’s campaign finance report, instead of a link, you will find the statement “No Campaign Finance Information Found.”

Because whether or not their campaign finance reports are published timely by third parties is beyond the reasonable scope of responsibility of the candidate, it may be appropriate not to hold their status of “No Campaign Finance Information Found” against them.

Political Affiliation

Except for judicial races, the political affiliation of each candidate, as recorded by the Leon County Supervisor of Elections, is stated next to the name of each non-judicial candidate. Though these are non-partisan races this information is provided for voters who are strongly affiliated with a particular political party and wish to vote for members of that party in local non-judicial offices.

In a very few instances I was unable to confirm a candidate’s voter registration status, and therefore, their party affiliation (if any). For those few candidates the words “Could Not Confirm Voter Registration” appear in place of their party affiliation. In almost every case they are probably registered, they just may not have updated a name change or they may have a name submitted for the ballot that is different from their legal name–such as when someone gets married, takes her spouse’s last name, but keeps her maiden name for election purposes due to its familiarity with voters. Also, sometimes, their name has simply been misspelled in the database.

In other words, consider not penalizing the candidate just because we couldn’t divine the universe of possibilities when looking up candidate names through the database.

For those candidates stated as “NPA,” that simply means that their voter registration states that they have “No Party Affiliation.”

Incumbency

Some voters believe that incumbents should be retained if they perceive that the current Commission or Board is doing a good job as a whole. Conversely, dissatisfied voters  may wish to “vote the bums out” (though please consider first making sure that the incumbent on the ballot hasn’t been the one trying to solve the problem.) Therefore, if a candidate is an incumbent, it is so stated next to their names.

Outlier Candidates

For the vast majority of candidates, the only information the Guide provides are their names, party affiliation, and, when available, links to their campaign websites or, as of October 30, 2014, their latest campaign finance reports.  Occasionally, however, there is an outlier candidate worthy of special attention.

Sometimes, it’s a positive highlight members of the general public may not commonly know: Leon Soil and Water Conservation District Two Candidate Stan Peacock is considered by those who work with the board to be one of the most competent, thorough, and committed member that the Board has ever had.

Unfortunately, other times, a candidate may have a noteworthy unorthodox past or demeanor, that those who do not often pay close attention to local politics may not be aware: Leon Soil and Water Conservation District Two Candidate William Helmich‘s sole occupation is as an ultra-right wing conservative consultant, and he can’t even be bothered to file campaign Finance reports. (He has simply not filed his previous four reports even though large amounts of money are being spent.)  Three people, including myself, called the Supervisor’s office to verify this wasn’t just a paperwork snafu.

In the event that a candidate may be an outlier, a small note is made beneath their name, campaign website link, or phrase “No Website Found,” and their Latest Campaign Finance Report or phrase “No Campaign Financial Information Found.” The representations and accusations are not my own, so I include a link to news reports (and one Youtube video) in citation of the statements made. In these cases, I hope you will do further research on your own.

All statements are intended as statements of opinion and are not statements of fact. I have done my best to exclude negative nonsense.

Personal Notes

Because Leon County is where I live and where I base my law practice, I occasionally have worked with, or have a personal relationship with, a candidate for public office. Usually my opinion is a positive one–most people who are active in Leon County politics, whatever their personal beliefs and opinions, are outstanding human beings and truly dedicated to public service. In a very few cases it’s a negative opinion.

In any event, if I have worked with or know the candidate personally, I offer a brief personal note of what I know about them.

Personal notes may not include links, because they are my personal opinions formed through experience and not something I learned through secondhand sources.

Also note that as I am a past chair of the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee–I might be biased!

Media Coverage

When available, I offer a link to the Tallahassee Democrat or WFSU’s analysis of each race.

Senator Bill Nelson at the  National High Magnetic Field Laboratory--Leon County is a place that believes in science.

Senator Bill Nelson at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory–Leon County is a place that believes in science.

First District Court of Appeal Judicial Retention Races

You can find information on the judges who are up for judicial retention at the Florida Bar’s website here.

The Leon County Commission

At-Large, Group Two:

The Tallahassee Democrat endorses Nick Maddox.

Curtis Baynes DEMOCRAT
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Nick Maddox (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Personal Note: Nick has always been one of my favorite Commissioners to work with and he cares deeply about Leon County. He was instrumental in funding the Leon County Mental Health Court and countless other initiatives.

District One:

Bill Proctor talks with the Tallahassee Democrat.

Weser Khufu’s Rebuttal to the Tallahassee Democrat’s Endorsement.

Weser Khufu DEMOCRAT
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Bill Proctor (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Personal Note: I have worked with Commissioner Proctor on several issues, particularly those related to social mobility, mental health, and veteran affairs.  At public meetings he expresses his District’s frustration through bellicose language and tone–he wants to make it clear to his constituents that he is fighting for them–but when the cameras shut off and the crowds disperse, in my experience, Commissioner Proctor works respectfully, pragmatically and diligently with his colleagues and community activists.  He is also one of the most enigmatic folks I have ever (and it was always a pleasure) worked with.

Leon Soil and Water Conservation District

Learn more about the Leon Soil and Water Conservation District here.

Here is WFSU’s coverage of these races.

District Two:

Stan Peacock (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Personal Note: It is my experience that Stan is considered by pretty much everybody who works with the Board to be the most competent, thorough, and committed member that the Board has ever had. He has a degree in biology and a doctorate in Optometry. One of the candidates in the District Four race suggests that there are no science experts on the Board–considering Stan’s eminent qualifications, that is not a fair assessment.

William Helmich REPUBLICAN
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: Bill Helmich sends out mailers attempting to betray himself as a Democrat when he is actually Vice Chair of the Republican Executive Committee of Leon County. Although he is spending large amounts of money, we don’t know who it’s from, because he hasn’t filed a campaign finance report with the Supervisor of Elections since September in an apparent naked flouting of Florida Campaign Finance Law. (Three people, including myself, called the Supervisor’s Office to verify this claim.) He once tried to create havoc at one of my Democratic Executive Committee meetings by storming in yelling nonsense about yard signs but–oops–choose to try this at meeting dedicated to a Sheriff and State Attorney candidates’ forum. When he abruptly popped in he was confronted by a largely uniformed audience–the protest deescalated quickly. He once sent a letter to my leadership team claiming I broke an election law by quoting a statute but omitting the text that very plainly mangled his argument into nonsense. His letter is here. My response is here. I followed it up by spending 10K on a second round of “If you like Rick Scott, than you’ll love Steve Stweart ads.” I never heard back from him after that. Bill Helmich should not be trusted to supervise our county’s water supply.

District Four:

Ryan Truchelut NPA
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Brian Lee DEMOCRAT
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Personal Note: Brian helps run an alternate-energy/environmental NGO and has demonstrated an ability to persuade conservative legislators and a “I’m not a scientist” Executive Office of Governor to do basic things to prevent the whole of south Florida from being submerged under the ocean before the next fiscal quarter. He has also proven his ability to raise money through both fundraisers and grant applications. He has been volunteering and actively engaged with the community for many years. Brian was also a key player in President Obama’s 2008 north Florida campaign.

Capital Region Community Development District 

Learn more about the Capital Region Community Development District here.

Seat Three:

Eli Nortelus (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Luis Rojas REPUBLICAN 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Note: If you scroll through his campaign contributions list, you might note an issue with where most of his donations are coming from.

Piney Z Community Development District

Learn more about Piney Z Community Development District here.

Seat One:

Delores Ann Pincus REPUBLICAN
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found

Hugh Hauck REPUBLICAN
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Note: Though it is of little relevance to a community development district race, if you care, Mr. Hauck is endorsed by Personhood Florida, a pro-life political action committee. 

Seat Three:

Johnny Patrick Devine DEMOCRAT
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Cheryl Hudson (Inclumbent) REPUBLICAN
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found

Rick Scott Rescheduled an Execution so Pam Bondi could go to a Fundraiser

Pieter Bruegel's ("little") Tower of Babel

Pieter Bruegel’s (“little”) Tower of Babel

In August, 2013, Governor Rick Scott rescheduled the execution date of Marshall Lee Gore from September 10th to October 1st.

Marshall Lee Gore raped, strangled, and stabbed Robyn Novick and dumped her body in rural Miami-Dade county. Marshall Lee Gore also killed Susan Roark after a chance encounter at a convenience store.  Susan Roark was 19.

Their names were Robyn Novick and Susan Roark.

Why would Governor Scott delay the execution of a teenage murdering maniac?  Was it because the Supreme Court was concerned that Gore was too mentally ill, thereby reducing his moral culpability and personal agency, (so the argument goes) to execute?

No.

Rick Scott delayed the execution of a rapist-murderer because on the day of the scheduled execution, September 10, 2013, Attorney General Pam Bondi had also scheduled a campaign fundraiser.

There was a conflict in her schedule you see–so she decided to change the date of what she presumably considered the less-important affair–the execution of the murderer of Robyn Novick, 30, and Susan Roark, 19.

It was her kickoff fundraiser, so perhaps she was concerned about the arrangements her wealthier supporters had made? Maybe she felt uncomfortable asking them to rearrange their calendars to accommodate an execution?

I wonder if the families of of Robyn Novick and Susan Roark thought it was inconvenient for themselves to rearrange their calendars to accommodate a political fundraiser? Or, instead, did they think it one further indignity for their loved one’s memory to endure?

It was a parting shot from the state of Florida expressing we don’t really care about you; we just pretend for the cameras. 

Governor Scott says he didn’t know the Attorney General’s reason when she asked for the delay.

I guess Rick Scott didn’t believe that the lives of  Robyn Novick and Susan Roark were even important enough to ask why.

But they were still going to kill somebody over it–provided they could agree on a convenient time.

As somebody who works and researches human rights issues, both domestically and in the field, I believe that a legitimate government should never kill its citizens. However, if there is going to be an execution, this is how it should take place.

Therefore, it’s not that I’m angry that this person lived for another three weeks; I would have been content to have let him breath until his natural death provided it be behind bars. I’m angry about why–this evil who was so evil he didn’t know he was evil–breathed the extra three weeks.

If you do support the death penalty and wonder why the Supreme Court allows appeal after appeal about the Constitution’s “cruel and unusual clause” and the “arbitrary application” argument–this is why.

Richard Junnier: Making a legal analysis of Fangate

After watching Charlie Crist accept the Democratic nomination for Florida Governor at his election night party, my friends and I fled the ruckus to a nearby hotel to enjoy a drink in privacy. Apparently we were not alone in this idea.

After watching Charlie Crist accept the Democratic nomination for Florida Governor at his election night party, my friends and I fled the ruckus to a nearby hotel to enjoy a drink in privacy. Apparently we were not alone in this idea.

This My View was originally published with the Tallahassee Democrat.

The organizers of the Oct. 15 gubernatorial debate have accused Charlie Crist of breaking the rules. From a legal standpoint, that simply isn’t true.

A contract is an agreement courts will enforce. To be enforceable, the agreement must be made for a legal purpose (no drug deals), must be mutually agreed to by people (yes, this includes corporations) with capacity (incorporated or 18, sober, and sane) and must include “adequate” consideration (you can’t sell your Ferrari for $1, but you can for $1 and a rug, for reasons better left to a future article). Though not ideal, some contracts can be made orally, while others, like the sale of property, must be written.

A person enters into a contract when he has “accepted” an “offer.” If a person is sent a contract but sends back a signed altered version of it, it is a “counteroffer” and thereby necessarily rejects the original contract. The second person may reject the counteroffer, accept it, or respond with another counteroffer. Under certain circumstances, the second person may accept the counteroffer through omission or inaction.

That is likely the case here:

The organizers sent both the Crist and Rick Scott campaigns an identical debate agreement, which stated that no electronic devices could be used, “including fans.” This was the organizers’ “offer.” Scott’s campaign accepted the offer and the Crist campaign signed the agreement but added the statement “With the understanding that the debate hosts will address any temperature issues with a fan if necessary.”

Florida law would treat the Crist’s altered contract as a “counteroffer” and therefore a rejection of the organizers’ offer. Assuming that the Scott campaign knew about the counteroffer, and the various parties, including the Crist campaign and the debate’s sponsors and organizers began to rely on the agreement by expending money and resources toward promoting and preparing for the debate, the Scott campaign effectively “ratified” the Crist campaign’s “Fan Amendment” through its inaction to object.

(If the organizers failed to notify the Scott campaign of the counteroffer, than the Crist campaign was still entitled to the fan and the Scott campaign’s attorney is also likely entitled to an animated conversation with the debate organizers.)

This new agreement allowed for Crist to have his fan if he felt the temperature warranted it, and created a duty for both Crist and Scott to appear for the debate. When only Crist appeared, Gov. Scott (in my opinion) was in breach of contract.

Moreover, had he not finally changed his mind after a fun but uncomfortable seven minutes, Scott may have even been liable for the damages caused to the debate sponsors, organizers and the media outlets that spent good money traveling to an event promising two candidates.

Finally, the obligatory caveat. I have seen and read what appear to be the relevant documents, but there may be other applicable documents I am unaware of, so please don’t confuse this My View for a proper legal memorandum.

Richard Junnier is the immediate past chair of the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee and also has served as its special counsel for campaign finance and election law. He practices both election law and contract law throughout Florida. Contact him at rjunnier@junnierlaw.com.

You Can Make all those Damn Political Phone Calls and Mailers Stop by Voting Early

As you can see from this picture, I am obviously non-partisan.

As you can see from this picture, I am obviously non-partisan.

Adventure Lawyer’s cocktail party factoid of the day:

If you vote early or return your absentee ballot, all those annoying calls from politicians and political parties and other groups will stop within about 24 hours.

This is because at the end of each day the major political parties request and receive files from each supervisor of elections so that the candidates in each party can update their databases which track which voters have already voted. If you have already voted, they take your name out of their call list because there is no longer an incentive to contact you.

So you have the power to stop those harassing calls today!

Vote Early!

The Division of Elections maintains a list of statewide early voting sites here.

All early voting sites are listed in Spanish here.

Because sometimes the Division of Elections database is slightly out of date, here is where you can vote early by each county in alphabetical order.

Alachua County

Baker County

Bay County

Bradford County

Brevard County

Broward County

Calhoun County

Charlotte County

Citrus County

Clay County

Collier County

Columbia County

DeSoto County

Dixie County

Duval County

Escambia County

Flagler County

Franklin County

Gadsden County

Gilchrist County

Glades County

Gulf County

Hamilton County

Hardee County
Note: Finding the info on this site requires an advanced degree in cryptology from MIT, so, to save you the hassle, Early Voting is at the Supervisor of Elections Office, Monday October 20, 2014 through Saturday November 1, 2014, 8:30am – 5:00pm.)

Hendry County

Hernando County

Highlands County

Hillsborough County

Holmes County

Indian River County

Jackson County

Jefferson County

Lafayette County

Lake County

Lee County

Leon County

Levy County

Liberty County

Madison County

Manatee County

Marion County

Martin County

Miami-Dade County

Monroe County

Nassau County

Okaloosa County

Okeechobee County

Orange County

Osceola County

Palm Beach County

Pasco County

Pinellas County

Polk County

Putnam County

St. Johns County

St. Lucie County

Santa Rosa County

Sarasota County

Seminole County

Sumter County

Suwannee County

Taylor County

Union County

Volusia County

Wakulla County
Note: Apparently the Supervisor of Elections website wants to keep its early voting program a secret. Early voting will be at the SOE Office, 3115‐B Crawfordville Highway, Crawfordville October 25 ‐ November 1, from 8:00 am ‐ 7:00 pm.

Walton County

Washington County

Broward County Guide to Non-Partisan Municipal, County, and Special District Elections

Richard Junnier behind the scenes

Remember to vote early.  Here is a list of all Early Voting Sites in Broward County.

Thank you for visiting the Adventure Lawyer’s “Broward County Guide to Non-Partisan Municipal, County, and Special District Elections.”

This guide is intended to help undecided voters throughout Broward County identify relevant information relating to potentially otherwise unknown candidates when deciding which individual most deserves your vote. It lists all candidates for each contested municipal, judicial, and special district board election appearing on the November 4, 2014 ballot.

Using the Guide

Campaign Websites

Directly under each candidate’s name is a link to their campaign website or their campaign Facebook page.  If a candidate has both, the link generally attaches to their website which will then contains its own link to their campaign Facebook page, if they have one. If I was unable to find a candidate campaign website or a campaign Facebook page, there will be the statement “No Website Found.”

Campaign Finance Records

Campaign Finance Reports for municipal elections are recorded with each municipal clerk.  The Clerks for Cooper City, Coral Springs, Dania Beach, Hallandale Beach, Lauderhill, Margate, Pompano Beach, and Wilton Manors post their candidates’ campaign finance records online. Clerks for Lauderdale Lakes, Oakland Park, Tamarac, and West Park apparently do not. Judicial and Special District candidate campaign finance reports are recorded at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections. For some of the these races the Supervisor posts an updated link to these records (such as in judicial races) and in others the Supervisor does not.

Directly under each candidate’s link to their campaign website or Facebook page, or the words “No Website Found,” is, when available, a link to each candidate’s most recent campaign finance report as of October 10, 2014. This link is titled “Latest Campaign Finance Report.”  If I was unable to find a posting of their most recent (or any) posting of the candidate’s campaign finance report, instead of a link, you will find the statement “No Campaign Finance Information Found.”

Because whether or not their campaign finance reports are published timely by third parties is beyond the reasonable scope of responsibility of the candidate, it may be appropriate not to hold their status of “No Campaign Finance Information Found” against them.

Political Affiliation

Except for judicial races, the political affiliation of each candidate, as recorded by the Broward Supervisor of Elections, is stated next to the name of each non-judicial candidate.  Though these are non-partisan races this information is provided for voters who are strongly affiliated with a particular political party and wish to vote for members of that party in local non-judicial offices.

In a very few instances I was unable to confirm a candidate’s voter registration status, and therefore, their party affiliation (if any). For those few candidates the words “Could Not Confirm Voter Registration” appear in place of their party affiliation. In almost every case they are probably registered, they just may not have updated a name change or they may have a name submitted for the ballot that is different from their legal name–such as when someone gets married, takes her spouse’s last name, but keeps her maiden name for election purposes due to its familiarity with voters. Also, sometimes, their name has simply been misspelled in the database.

In other words, consider not penalizing the candidate just because we couldn’t divine the universe of possibilities when looking up candidate names through the database.

For those candidates stated as “NPA,” that simply means that their voter registration states that they have “No Party Affiliation.”

Incumbency

Some voters believe that incumbents should be retained if they perceive that the current Commission or Board is doing a good job as a whole. Conversely, dissatisfied voters  may wish to “vote the bums out” (though please consider first making sure that the incumbent on the ballot hasn’t been the one trying to solve the problem.) Therefore, if a candidate is an incumbent, it is so stated next to their names.

Outlier Candidates

For the vast majority of candidates, the only information the Guide provides are their names, party affiliation, and, when available, links to their campaign websites or, as of October 10, 2014, their latest campaign finance reports.  Occasionally, however, there is an outlier candidate worthy of special attention.

Sometimes, it’s a positive highlight members of the general public may not commonly know: Coral Springs Mayoral candidate Walter “Skip” Campbell is a former state senator and statewide attorney general nominee, and is an unusually highly qualified candidate. Barry L. Moss  is the only Democratic candidate running in a four way race in wildly liberal Pompano Beach’s Seat 5 race.

Unfortunately, other times, a candidate may have a noteworthy unorthodox past or demeanor, that those who do not often pay close attention to local politics may not be aware: Wilton Manors City Commission incumbent Ted Galatis made national news by screaming racial epithets during a road rage incident. Though everyone’s favorite unusual candidate seems to be Wilton Manor’s Christopher Warnigwho is 22, been involved in the gay porn industry, and has been twice arrested for impersonating a police officer, and who reportedly responded by buying a bulletproof vest with campaign cash. Not to be outdone, a third Wilton Manors candidate, Boyd Corbin, who I guess just enjoys dressing as a KKK member while assaulting his would-be constituents, well–just yikes! Elsewhere in Broward County, incumbent Cooper City Commissioner John Sims seems to be a venerable cornucopia of hate and alleged domestic violence.  He is so disliked, that the data director of one of the statewide campaigns took the trouble to detail and publicly publish a strategy to ensure he never becomes dog catcher let alone wins reelection. 

Some candidates simply seem clandestine. Walnut Creek CDD Seat 4 candidate, A. Munju, short for Ali Noor Munju, has no website and no campaign finance reports available. In some very low profile races, candidates think they have a chance of winning through the coin-toss model of voting. His opponent, Nicole Stames-DiCorpo, seems to be following precisely the same strategy.

In the event that a candidate may be an outlier, a small note is made beneath their name, campaign website link, or phrase “No Website Found,” and their Latest Campaign Finance Report or phrase “No Campaign Financial Information Found.” The representations and accusations are not my own, so I include a link to news reports (and one Youtube video) in citation of the statements made. In these cases, I hope you will do further research on your own.

All statements are intended as statements of opinion and are not statements of fact. I have done my best to exclude negative nonsense.

Media Coverage

When available, I offer a link to the Sun Sentinel’s analysis of each race.

The "parking lot" at Pier 66, Hollywood, FL

The “parking lot” at Pier 66, Hollywood, FL

Broward County Non-Partisan Municipal Races
(In alphabetical order by city)

Cooper City

City Commission, District 1:

Michael J. de Miranda REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

John Sims (Incumbent) REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: Controversial due to his racist Obama Facebook statuses and also someone on Youtube has put together a montage of his other objectionable behaviors. Anybody looking for a field strategy to unseat him may find it here. 

 Coral Springs

The Sun Sentinel’s coverage of these races may be found here.

Mayor:

Walter “Skip” Campbell DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Particularly High-Qualified Candidate: Former State Senator and Democratic Nominee for Florida Attorney General

Tom Powers REPUBLICAN 
Website Not Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: Mr. Powers is considered by some to be a particularly controversial conservative candidate.

City Commission, Seat 4:

Lou Cimaglia DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Howard Irwin Melamed DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

City Commission, Seat 5:

Joy Carter NPA
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Andy Holz REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Laurette Homan REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Dania Beach

 City Commission (elect two)

Charles Camacho Jr. DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Bobbie Grace (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

James Ridgely III (Withdrawn but name will appear on ballot) NPA
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: Ineligible to serve due to 1989 felony conviction.

Marco Salvino Sr. REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Rae Sandler NPA
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: She was escorted out of a commission meeting for being disruptive; you can decide if this was warranted by watching here.

Hallandale Beach

Sun Sentinel Coverage of these races can be found here.

City Commission, Seat 1: 

Gerald Dean DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Ann Pearl Henigson DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Chuck Kulin DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Anthony Sanders (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

City Commission, Seat 2: 

Leo Grachow (Incumbent, appointed) DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Keith London DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Lauderdale Lakes

Lauderdale Lakes does not appear to publish its candidate’s campaign finance reports, you can call the Clerk directly about this at 954-535-2705.

The Sun Sentinel’s Coverage of this race can be found here.

City Commission, Seat 2:

Sandra Davey DEMOCRAT 
Website

TeAndre Warrior Gomion DEMOCRAT 
Website

Beverly M. Williams DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found

Jeffery L. Williams DEMOCRAT 
Website

Lauderhill

The Sun Sentinel’s coverage of this race can be found here.

City Commission, Seat 4:

Hayward J. Benson, Jr. (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

William Cossio DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: An unusual candidate; you can find his “Go Fund Me” site here.
Note: Candidate may wish to review (Sections 106.143(3) and (5), F.S.) in relationship to his use of his party affiliation stated on his website.

Denise Grant DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Kelvin G.Haynes DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Margate

City Commission, Seat 2: (Decided by August 26, Special Election)

City Commission, Seat 3:

Anthony Caggiano DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Edward A. DeCristofaro DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Lesa Peerman (Incumbant) DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Oakland Park

Oakland Park does not appear to publish its candidate’s campaign finance reports, you can call the Clerk directly about this at 954-630-4300.

The Sun Sentinel’s Coverage of this race can be found here.

 City Commission (elect two):

John Adornato III (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
Website

Steven Arnst REPUBLICAN 
No Website Found
Caution: Opposed lifting housing restrictions disproportionately effecting gay people.

Shari McCartney (Incumbent) REPUBLICAN 
Website

Pompano Beach

The Sun Sentinel’s Coverage for this race can be found here.

City Commission, District 1: 

Barry Dockswell (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Angela Lee Hill REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

City Commission, District 2:

Charlotte Burrie (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Thomas Terwilliger REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

City Commission, District 3:

Kenneth Alan Campbell REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Rex Hardin (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

City Commission, District 4:

Beverly Perkins DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Edward W. Phillips DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: According to the Dolphin Democrats Mr. Phillips opposed marriage equality and gay adoption during his endorsement interview.

Shelton Pooler DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Whitney Rawls DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

City Commission, District 5:

John D. Bynoe REPUBLICAN 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Roger Gingerich REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Barry L. Moss DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Insider’s tip: Many Democratic political leaders and strategists are particularly excited about this candidate.

Joan McConnell REPUBLICAN 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Tamarac

Tamarac does not appear to publish its candidate’s campaign finance reports, you  can call the Clerk directly about this at 954-597-3505.

Mayor:

Harry Dressler (Incumbent, appointed) DEMOCRAT 
Website

Mike Gelin DEMOCRAT
Website

City Commission, District 2:

Michelle J. Gomez (Incumbent, appointed) NPA
Website

Stewart Webster DEMOCRAT 
Website

West Park

West Park does not appear to publish its candidate’s campaign finance reports, you can call the Clerk directly about this at 954-989-2688.

Sun Sentinel’s Coverage for these races are available here.

City Commission, Seat 1: 

Thomas Dorsett (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found

Ronald Bell DEMOCRAT
No Website Found

City Commission, Seat 2: 

Kristine Judeikis DEMOCRAT
No Website Found

Reeta Nielly-Mills DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found

Ruby Seymour-Barr DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found

Wasn’t the analysis of these West Park races useful? 

Wilton Manors

The Sun Sentinel’s Coverage for these races are available here.

Mayor: 

Doug Blevins DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Boyd Corbin DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: Yikes! To learn more about him on his website he encourages you to click his “Arrest” tab. Electing someone accused of anti-gay hate crimes as Wilton Manor’s next Mayor would be an interesting direction for the City to go in.

Gary Resnick (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

City Commission (elect two):

Justin Flippen DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Ted Galatis (Incumbent) REPUBLICAN
If he has a website for his reelection, it’s buried under a slew of bad publicity and search engines were unable to find it.
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: This is the Commissioner who thought it was okay to use the “N” word in a road rage incident. He apologized but refused to resign.

Lillie Harris DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Scott Newton (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Naomi Ruth Parker DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Sal Torre DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Christopher Warnig DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: Worked in gay porn and was twice arrested for impersonating a police officer.

Kimber White DEMOCRAT (Has withdrawn from race, but name may still appear on ballot)
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Sunset at the pier in Deerfield Beach

Sunset at the pier in Deerfield Beach

Broward Countywide Non-Partisan Elections

Broward Soil & Water Conservation District, Dist. 4

Gineen Maria Bresso REPUBLICAN
No Website Found
No Campaign Financial Information Available

Douglas Russell, Jr. DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
No Campaign Financial Information Available
Note: Mr Russell is endorsed by the Democratic Nominee for Florida Agriculture Commissioner.

Fred Segal (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Available
Note: Mr. Segal is very active in the community and has a long track record of volunteerism.

17th Judicial Circuit Runoff

I will not disclose the political affiliation of judicial candidates.

Group 16

Dennis Bailey
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Rhoda Sokoloff
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Broward County Court Judicial Runoff 

I will not disclose the political affiliation of judicial candidates.

Group 27:

Ian J. Richards (Incumbent)
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Claudia Robinson
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Broward County Non-Partisan Special District Elections

Monterra CDD

Seat 5:

Scott Barrocas DEMOCRAT 
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Particularly High-Qualified Candidate: He is a Realtor and the Commission Aide to Broward County District One Commissioner Martin David Kiar.

Tina Forssten NPA
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found

Kevin Wilke 
NPA
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Seat 2:

Susan Elaine Kooiman DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Peter Rost NPA
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found
Possible Caution: Supported the controversial Cooper City Walmart being planned at Stirling and Pine Island Road.

Plantation Acres Improvement District

(Pick three)

Louis (Lou) Flanigan DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found

J. Gary McAlpin REPUBLICAN
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found

Jennifer E. Nieset DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report 

Edward N. Szerlip REPUBLICAN 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Walnut Creek CDD

Seat 2:

Bette R. Clein DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found

Betty Ross REPUBLICAN
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found

Seat 4:

A. Munju (Short for Ali Noor Munju) DEMOCRAT 
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found
Possible Caution: May be a real estate speculator which could, but may not necessarily, present multiple conflicts of interest.
Possible Caution: Seems to have multiple aliases.

Nicole Stames-DiCorpo REPUBLICAN
No Website Available
No Campaign Finance Information Found

Why it’s Important to Support President-designate Thrasher

After the shuttle dropped us off at Doak Campbell Stadium, it was time for pictures with the Seminole cheerleaders! Living the dream, though, perhaps not my own.

After President Barron’s shuttle dropped us off at Doak Campbell Stadium, it was time for pictures with the Seminole cheerleaders! Living the dream, though, perhaps not my own.

To my fellow Seminoles:

Some of us supported Mr. Thrasher’s hard-fought endeavor to be the next President of Florida State University. To those, it is appropriate to acknowledge congratulations and our allegiance to FSU.

To those, including myself, who are disappointed in the duly appointed Board of Trustees’ decision, many warned of a potentially consequential academic brain-drain and drop in FSU’s reputation as a deeply committed Carnegie One Research University.

The decision having been made, it is time for us to come together to prevent such dire predictions.  

Some have expressed their discontent with promises to discontinue alumni donations, to cause the enterprises or research foundations they helm to withhold grants, and most seriously, a few, among them some of the great scientists on Earth, have suggested that they will resign research and teaching positions at the Florida State University we all love.

Well, that’s not very helpful.

Please, don’t do that.

I will borrow the farsighted argument of David Cameron on the eve of what was the potential Scot succession:

John Thrasher will not be here forever.

The current roster of the Board of Trustees will not be here forever.

Rick Scott will not be here forever.

Even the Koch Brothers, will not be here forever.

Until a meteor hits us at just the right angle, the predicted next ice-age sets in, or leaders with a worrying overconfidence in a better afterlife press the button mutually assuring our destruction, the future of our institution and its Voltaire garden of works must continue to be cultivated–even under challenging economic and political circumstances.

This is because:

Thanks to FSU’s advances in cancer research, such as Taxol, a world with children suffering from cancer does not have to be forever.

Opposite the spectrum of human development, recent discoveries from FSU’s Bienkiewicz Laboratory give us hope that our coexistence with Alzheimer’s Disease does not have to be forever.

If FSU researcher Albrecht-Schmitt’s work with “californium” is repeatedly replicated through peer review, radioactive waste, does not even have to be forever.

Disagreement with the majority of a thirteen-person committee is insufficient cause to jeopardize our role in our university’s future accomplishments and continued academic leadership in the world.

Moreover, the John Thrashers of the world, the science-deniers, the pray-the-gay away folks–they may want you to resign from your research and teaching positions. They may want to promptly replace you with people arguing the “other side” of climate change, evolution, tobacco’s role in cancer, sexual equality, and other celestial teapots. They may want you to “go gentle into that good night.”

Your resignation may merely be misidentified as surrender to those who appreciate and understand you most–your supporters, your students, your colleagues who cite your works, those whose livelihoods depend upon your grants and lab budgets, and the segments of our society who do not wish to be drowned under rising sea levels.

It is understandable that you may yearn to succumb to the serene siren’s song that the world isn’t fair and doesn’t appreciate your tireless effort–many of you have suffered divorce and alienation in your quest for knowledge helpful to a seemingly apathetic and unappreciative universe. Consider, however, explaining to a kid with cancer that you suspended your research while looking for employment and funding elsewhere because politics plays too much of a role in Florida’s higher education–you may find an unsympathetic audience.

You chose and endured great hardship to be public intellectuals, and you therefore voluntarily chose to be responsible as scientists, philosophers, artists, and academicians to “rage against the dying of the light” in a world where science-deniers, the nihilists, and wealthy special interests occasionally win the day at the ballot box.

The community needs you to fulfill that responsibility now more than ever.

Some of you have tenure–he cannot make you leave; only you have that power–don’t cede it.

To consider changing where you live and where you work just because the titular head disagrees with you is to give him far more power than he, or his supporters, actually have or deserve.

The faculty, TAs, and students collectively have more actual power to determine the direction of FSU than a single human being–whatever the net-worth of his supporters and whatever his title.

Meanwhile, he has offered to fundraise a billion dollars in one hundred days.

Enthusiastically support him in this endeavor–then spend every dollar of it producing peer reviewed experiments and empirical research to prove his and the Koch brother’s ideas wrong.

If you are feeling particularly charitable, consider giving him a chance. Wait for him to make actual objective mistakes while sincerely working with him to help succeed in bettering FSU before demanding his tarring and feathering. It is possible he wants to pour all of his energy into making this school be the best it can be on its own terms and that he is able to divorce his personal opinions from the process–he wouldn’t be the first political leader to do such in search of a legacy.

The only other remedy is to go get the pitch forks while others rally the village people and see if that makes him more likely to listen to your grant proposals and objections.

In my limited experience in life, this strategy rarely works.

Whatever you do, please don’t give up. Continue to donate; continue your support–FSU is bigger than one man and it is bigger than all of us. It is an idea of intellectually honest cooperation to further the sciences, the humanities, and the observable truth.

Don’t let our transient disagreement with the transient Board of Trustees in its choice of a transient leader distract from the accomplishment and promising future of a 150 plus year Carnegie One Research University and its hundreds of thousands alumni and the hundreds of millions who have, knowingly or not, benefited from its discoveries.

The decision of who shall be FSU’s next President is done.

Please join me in offering full support to FSU’s Seventeenth President-designate, the Honorable John Thrasher.

If his actual job performance suggests such allegiance is unwarranted, I have confidence that we will respond appropriately.

In the meantime, one of FSU’s greatest strengths and defense mechanisms is its sense of humor. I chose to go to FSU for the same reasons I chose to be amongst most people and institutions I associate with–because of a demonstrable lighthearted humor, cooperation,   and kindness.

So, say now, why are all the Environmental Science textbooks at Strozier Library now in the “fiction” section?

Of course, they won’t be. (But it’s still okay to make a joke here and there.)

Remember, “the fun never stops.

Respectfully,

Richard Junnier, Esq.

President, Junnier Law, P.A.
Immediate Past Chair of the Leon County Democratic Party

From November 2012 through January 2013, Richard served as a member of a White House Work Group assembled to successfully discuss and organize grassroots opposition to the Sequester, the Fiscal Cliff, and federal debt default.

From November 2012 through January 2013, Richard served as a member of a White House Work Group assembled to successfully discuss and organize grassroots opposition to the Sequester, the Fiscal Cliff, and federal debt default.

My Comment to the FSU Board of Trustees on their Potential Appointment of a Creationist President

Junnier Law, P.A., Richard Junnier, Esq.

Junnier Law, P.A., Richard Junnier, Esq.

September 17, 2014

Dear Honorable Florida State University Board of Trustees:

I believe it is wholly inappropriate to appoint an individual who neither believes in evolution nor climate change President of a Carnegie One Research University.

Today, FSU is known for being on the cutting edge of cancer research, hosting a Nobel Laureate who helms the world’s largest electromagnet, and, ironically, producing a meteorology program that is one of the world leaders at studying climate change.

I fear that if Mr. Thrasher is appointed–virtually overnight–with the assistance of sensationalist news outlets and blogs, the hyperbole of the Daily Show, a well-deserved sardonic interview aired on the Colbert Report, and being the punchline of a succession of jokes on late night monologues–we will instead be known singularly as the University with a creationist President.

It’ll just be another jab at a state that appears to get nothing right.

Beyond that, there is his temperament to consider.

His conduct during his campus student-faculty discussion evidenced an individual not responsive to questions or criticism. When two students–quite appropriately–laughed at his “I’m not a scientist” answer to a question about the existence of climate change, he threatened to discontinue the proceedings.

That is unlikely the optimal attitude necessary to foster debate and discuss diverse ideas among a group of wily and confidently opinionated faculty and students. When I interview candidates and they threaten to leave the employment interview, as a rule, I move on to the next applicant.

He also obfuscated a series of questions including those as basic as quizzing his knowledge of the scientific method and evolution. A President should be able to offer concise and responsive answers to complicated questions let alone basic ones. It is embarrassing that students and faculty even thought such questions were necessary–but apparently they were.

If Mr. Thrasher is appointed, I easily imagine our university’s top talent will get their CVs in order and high school students interested in science and engineering will look elsewhere for their college education. Sure, he can probably fund raise $1 Billion; but our reputation is worth far more than that.

Bill Nye (the Science Guy) appeared at FSU last night to give a lecture. During the Q&A he was asked about the prospects of potentially having a creationist university president: “Well, I find it heartbreaking.”

I do too.

Respectfully,

Richard Junnier, Esq.
Junnier Law, P.A.

A Brief Note about the Florida Democratic Party’s Primary for Attorney General:

BillClintonVisit

If you are undecided in the Florida Democratic Party’s Primary for Attorney General, please consider voting for George Sheldon.

I don’t have a single negative comment about his opponent, but George’s experience is transcendent. His problem solving skills and ability to create consensus have been repeatedly demonstrated during his service in senior posts at both the state and national level, working under both Republicans and Democrats. He has dedicated his entire public service career to advancing the cause of human rights (by breaking up human trafficking rings), protecting the defenseless (particularly abused children), and uplifting the oppressed (by reducing the error-rates in welfare and food stamp distribution).

He spent a career working for previous attorney generals, ultimately becoming chief deputy (for central Florida) to beloved Bob Butterworth. When the Department of Children and Families was in shambles–then Governor Charlie Crist tasked him with fixing it. He has also served as a senior official in the Obama administration. Prior to serving in the executive branch, George spent 8 years in the Florida House of Representatives.

You can learn more about this extraordinary human being here.

You can compare George’s record with his, also qualified, opponent’s here. 

To express my gratitude, here is a hamster looking cute.

 

 

MeelectionnightWhich Adventure Lawyer essay do you think got the most views?

a) Random picture of a hamster looking cute
b) What to do When Attacked by a Jaguar
c) Welcome to the Revolution
d) Recommendations for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit and Broward County Judicial Bench

If you guessed “hamster,” I like the way you think.

But more than 1,200 people reviewed my “Recommendations for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit and Broward County Judicial Bench,” dwarfing any interest in my actual adventure writing. If you also combine my recommendations for the 15th and 11th judicial circuits, my judicial political essays have attracted more than half of my blog’s traffic this month.

Either I can make voting for judge as exciting as a jaguar attack and fleeing Thai separatists in Yala, or I can make a jaguar attack and fleeing Thai separatists in Yala as boring as voting for judge.

Either way, thanks for the 3,000 views!

To express my gratitude, here is a hamster looking cute.

Recommendations for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit and Palm Beach Judicial Bench

Richard Junnier, Esq.

Richard Junnier, Esq.

First, there are no poor candidates in this election field.

There are no kooks, crooks, clearly-unqualifieds, or those suspected of corruption. Each candidate evidences excellence, appears sincere, and has demonstrated varying levels of community commitment.

My recommendations lean toward candidates with a high volume of court experience, previous judicial experience (meaning incumbency), and whose public service has demonstrated a compassionate heart, attention to detail, and who evidence the capacity to transcend prejudice and heuristic through treating people and cases as unique and individual. I believe that these attributes optimally maximize the potential for consistent, albeit always imperfect, fairness.

When determining the varying levels of these qualities in each candidate I reviewed news reports, both traditional and social, solicited colleagues’ anecdotes, and, when available, reviewed the candidate’s websites.

One factor I refuse to consider is the political affiliation of any candidate.

Campaigning in Leon County during 2012 early voting

Campaigning in Leon County during 2012 early voting

I also chose not to review their success at fundraising, and, unless all other factors were equal, I ignored consideration as to ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. If all other factors were equal, I sided with choices that empower representatives of historically disenfranchised communities–this is intended to further the public interest of having a judiciary as diverse as the society it judges.

These are my recommendations followed by a brief analysis of why I recommend them:

15th Circuit Judges

Group 14: Diana Lewis*

Group 30: Maxine Cheesman

Palm Beach County Judges

There are no contested elections for Palm Beach County Judge.

*Denotes that the recommended candidate is also the incumbent.

Analysis of 15th Circuit Judicial Candidates:

Group 14: Diana Lewis* 

“Nothing in this Estate will be contested. This Estate would have been opened as a routine matter on this Court’s ex parte calendar but for their same-sex marriage. There is no rational basis to apply those laws to the facts of this case. Same-sex couples are entitled to respect, dignity, and protection as any other spouse. . .”         –The Hon. Diana Lewis

Diana Lewis is the judge that ruled–as it applies to probate law–Florida must recognize out-of-state same sex marriages.*

*Specifically: Florida probate law requires that the personal representative for a decedent either be a Florida resident, a family member of the decedent, or a spouse of the decedent. Florida law prohibits recognition of out-of-state same sex marriages for “any purpose.” In this case, the person applying to be personal representative for his deceased out-of-state same sex spouse was a non-resident. Judge Lewis ruled that the “any purpose” portion of Florida law is inapplicable in this situation.

You can read her ruling, and get an idea of her nuanced writing ability, here. 

Judge Lewis has served on the 11th Circuit bench since 2003–the same year her opponent graduated from law school. Prior to that, she spent twenty years as a powerhouse attorney working with firms that are synonymous with hyper-competence. The law is not her first career, she used to be an admissions counselor for Notre Dame. She volunteers regularly with religious and secular charities and serves on the Board of Trustees for her alma mater. She also serves on multiple bar committees related to the practice and policing of attorney ethics and professionalism.

(The potential irony of this is discussed at length further below.)

Her challenger is Jessica Ticktin. Although young, she has a splendid legal resume. Mrs. Ticktin has practiced law for ten years, mostly with her father’s firm, the Ticktin Law Group (you have seen their commercials) and for four years, as managing partner. She says that she oversees 24 attorneys, 4,500 cases, and 10 offices. While the firm seems to advertise its abilities in any legal situation, she concentrates in the area of family law.

I tried to find a list of civic accomplishments, examples of volunteerism, or public recognitions. Neither her law firm nor campaign websites list anything significant.

Because Judge Lewis has twenty more years legal experience, and because she actively shows her community commitment through volunteer activities and charitable work, I recommend that she be retained.

I do this with some reluctance because Judge Lewis might be a bit of a bully.

Mrs. Ticktin has advanced an aggressively negative campaign. Citing a poll of those who practice in Palm Beach, Mrs. Ticktin claims Judge Lewis has a poor judicial temperament and a bias toward defendants in civil litigation. Mrs. Ticktin also claims Judge Lewis’ decisions have the highest rate of being overturned on appeal.

Facially, that is pretty scary, so I will analyze each of those claims.

The Palm Beach practitioners’ poll is unreliable because of its dismal response rate–10.33%. Because it is unreliable, it evidences nothing. Its use in a campaign is therefore misleading. According to the Palm Beach Post, this was explained to Mrs. Ticktin by the Judicial Practices Commission of the Florida Bar Association. Despite being admonished not to do it, Mrs. Ticktin has continued to use the poll.

You can read the full article here.

However, some attorneys have said that she yells and degrades them. The anonymous online comments are truly jaw-dropping. If you’re feeling prurient, or just want to be reminded how unkind we can be toward one another, you can look at some of them here.

Others explain that she is simply impatient with lawyers who are unprepared. Her bias is not evidenced toward defendants, but merely favors attorneys who exhibit competence. Apparently, unlike some judges, she reads every scrap of paper an attorney files prior to a hearing and gets really annoyed with those appearing before her if they have not. She takes her job very seriously.

My friends (admittedly a  very small sample) who appear before her describe her as “nice” and “extremely detailed.”

She appears to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the law, but when her decisions are appealed, quizzically, more than 40% have been overturned. That sounds high and it probably is.

However, at the relevant time, she primarily presided over foreclosure cases, and if she enters a default judgment because the homeowner is too depressed to even show up to court, there is probably going to be an appellate reversal. She does not realistically have control over that.

Beyond my hypothetical example, I researched the significance of a 40% reversal rate in civil law cases.

In a regretful effort to be thorough, I examined several academic statistical analyses of appellate reversal rates in the state courts of large counties. The one I thought to be the most relevant (though still not great) is a 2006 “Special Report” of the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. According to the DOJ, 15% of civil trials conclude with an appeal by the losing party, of which 43% are withdrawn or dismissed prior to appellate resolution. Of those remaining appeals, approximately 33% of trial judgments are reversed in whole or in part. Focusing specifically on real property trials (which include but are not limited to foreclosure hearings), the appeal rate increases from 15% to 24%. I would tell you what of that 24% gets reversed on appeal, but the study then divides property claims into tort and contract categories making that not feasible.

The report is here.

I tried to find a specific study pertaining to appellate foreclosure reversal rates in Florida, but did not find one. However, the website for Florida Foreclosure Attorneys, PLLC details a helpful long list of foreclosure reversals.

In other words–while high, a 40% reversal rate seems to be within the bounds of normalcy for foreclosure dockets.

Because Mrs. Ticktin’s accusations are based upon an unreliable poll, anonymous internet anecdotes, and are counterbalanced by other attorneys’ anecdotes, I instead compare Judge Lewis’ more than three-decade legal career with Mrs. Ticktin’s briefer one. I also compare Judge Lewis’ active volunteerism to Mrs. Ticktin’s apparent lack of one.

With some reservation, I recommend Judge Lewis be retained.

Group 30: Maxine Cheesman

Because of her thirty-year legal career and copious pro-bono work, I was going to recommend Peggy Rowe-Linn. Despite a lack of trial experience (none of the candidates have preformed a significant amount of Florida trial work) she would surely make an excellent judge.

Similarly, Ivy-League educated Jaimie Goodman, though the bulk of his trial experience is out-of-state, seems to have an excellent temperament, and despite specializing in employment law, has a commanding general legal knowledge. This is his third campaign for judge.

But as I wrote about Mrs. Rowe-Linn’s prodigious legal career, one thought kept attacking my mind.

“I really want to recommend Maxine Cheesman.”

First, while almost every lawyer majors in political science or philosophy, (I opted for psychology with a minor in literature thereby guaranteeing my need to go to law school if I wanted a job) as an undergraduate, Ms. Cheesman received a Bachelor and Master’s degree in Chemistry. The suggestion of a mind capable of calculus and empiricism serving as a judge is downright thrilling.

A judiciary incapable of subjecting evidence to the scientific method is why I occasionally find myself working postconviction cases involving the improper admittance of clairvoyant testimony as signaled by a psychic dog. (I really do have to write about that case someday soon!)

Second, although the span of her legal career is less than half that of Mrs. Rowe-Lynn, she has practiced law for ten years. And for that ten years she has concentrated on advancing the cause of the defenseless and the oppressed. She won the Palm Beach Bar Association’s 2012 “And Justice for All” Award for providing high quality pro-bono work to the Palm Beach community. It is no surprise that the law is Ms. Cheesman’s second career. Prior to launching her civil litigation firm in 2005, she spent 27 years in the public sector, including 15 years as a division head at the South Florida Water Management District.

Third, she consistently answers questions in the most fantastically awesome way. When asked what is the most important quality in selecting a judge, most will answer “a knowledge of the law.” When asked, Ms. Cheesman offered what I believe to be the almost never mentioned, but correct, answer–“patience.”

(That is from an interview with West Boca News.) 

I believe that Ms. Cheesman’s ten years of legal experience, supplemented with her rare and needed background in science, a 27 year public service career, and eloquent understanding of judicial temperament amid chaotic caseloads, make her at least as qualified as Mrs. Rowe-Linn.

All other things therefore being equal, Maxine Cheesman is a native of Jamaica. As the Afro-Caribbean community continues to grow in south Florida, it is time that a highly accomplished representative from that community be elevated to the Bench of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit.

This is intended to further the public interest of having a judiciary as diverse as the society it judges.

Or as it powerfully states on Ms. Cheesman’s campaign website: “You have the power to chose who judges you.”

I recommend Maxine Cheesman.

What are your recommendations? Please share in the comments section below.

###

A Brief Note about the Florida Democratic Party’s Primary for Attorney General:

If you are undecided in the Florida Democratic Party’s Primary for Attorney General, please consider voting for George Sheldon.

I don’t have a single negative comment about his opponent, but George’s experience is transcendent. His problem solving skills and ability to create consensus have been repeatedly demonstrated during his service in senior posts at the state and national level, working under both Republicans and Democrats. He has dedicated his entire public service career to advancing the cause of human rights (by breaking up human trafficking rings), protecting the defenseless (particularly abused children), and uplifting the oppressed (by reducing the error-rates in welfare and food stamp distribution).

He spent a career working for previous attorney generals, ultimately becoming chief deputy (for central Florida) to beloved Bob Butterworth. When the Department of Children and Families was in shambles–then Governor Charlie Crist tasked him with fixing it. He has also served as a senior official in the Obama administration. Prior to serving in the executive branch, George spent 8 years in the Florida House of Representatives.

You can learn more about this extraordinary human being here.

You can compare George’s record with his, also qualified, opponent’s here.