Category Archives: Miami-Dade County

Irish Citizens Abroad Returning Home to Vote for Marriage Equality

Ireland is hugely predicted to vote "yes" in today's constitutional referendum on marriage equality.

Ireland is hugely predicted to vote “yes” in today’s constitutional referendum on marriage equality.

Huge numbers of Irish citizens are returning from abroad to vote “yes” in today’s constitutional referendum on marriage equality. Is it just because they want to be there for a historical moment?

Maybe, but also, probably because that is the only way they can vote. In Ireland, a voter must vote in person and be named on the official registry of voters.

There are exceptions for military, national guardsman, diplomats and their spouses, whom are eligible to vote by mail. Potentially also eligible are people with disabilities, students studying away from home, people who work abroad, prisoners (yes, prisoners can vote in Ireland), and residents of hospitals and nursing homes.

Those living abroad are ineligible to vote because their names are not on the official registry of voters. Thus, they have to return “home” to vote.

Another tidbit U.S. citizen’s may find interesting, certain categories of non-citizens are able to vote in specific elections. Non-citizen residents can vote in local elections. British citizens may vote at Dáil elections (lower house of Irish Parliament), European elections (such as elections for European Parliament) and local elections. E.U. citizens can participate in European elections and local elections.

If you happen to be reading this and you are Irish, in the U.S., not only don’t U.S. citizens have to vote in person, political parties and candidates actively encourage “early voting” (limited voting stations sometimes open weeks in advance of the official “election day.”) and vote-by-mail, a program which is open to any U.S. citizen and also begins weeks in advance of the official “election day.” The reason for this is it allows political parties and candidates to track who had voted and concentrate further messaging toward those known to have not yet voted. The reason voters like it is because it allows them more flexibility in how and when they vote. Conversely, many political activists wait to vote in person on election day because then they continue to get campaign mailers until the day of the election and thereby know what the opposition is messaging.

Residents of most U.S. territories may also vote in U.S. elections provided they reside in the U.S. at the time of the election. Anybody convicted of a felony may not vote in any election until their civil rights have been restored. In some jurisdictions this happens automatically upon a prisoner’s completion of sentence (including non-incarceration probation and payment of fines and restitution) and in others there is a formalized application process.

Non-citizens are ineligible to vote in all elections without exception. The mere notion of such an idea might make a very socially conservative’s head explode.

To learn more about voting in Ireland you can visit here.

Today is Election Day, Vote!

Campaigning in Leon County during 2012 early voting

Campaigning in Leon County during 2012 early voting

Today is election day and everyone has done their job.

Thousands of volunteers from around the state have made phone calls, knocked on doors, pestered you to sign petitions and hundreds of others will be driving the disabled to the polls today as they have been for the last ten early voting days.

Absentee ballots were tracked and mailers (occasionally making accurate statements) were made and sent.

Prospective voters have been bombarded with television ads of democrats distancing themselves from Obama while posing with a gun and insisting they’ll defend the Second Amendment. Some republicans meanwhile, in apparent seriousness, explained that the “myth” of global climate change is “proved” false because God said he’d never flood the world again after Noah’s aquatic adventure in antiquity with two of every animal.

Debates were had on live television. . . Even a small portable fan famously did its job.

Attorney General Pam Bondi takes her campaign so seriously that, with Governor Scott’s blessing, she rescheduled the execution of Marshall Lee Gore so she could attend a political fundraiser.

Democracy in a free and imperfect society is not an inexpensive affair.

$473,137,991.31 has been contributed from 1,533 political organizations and committees during the 2014 Florida General Election cycle. Of that, $458,702,602.49 was spent. This is in addition to what the actual candidates and campaigns spent. If you wish to kill what’s left of your soul, you can find where the money came from and where it went by searching through the Florida Division of Elections database here. In county races, judicial races, soil and water conservation districts, and community development districts, you need to go to your local supervisor of elections website to track down their financial reports–a list of each county supervisor’s website by county in alphabetical order can be found here. For information about municipal (mayor and city commissioner) fundraising you will have to call the municipal clerk for your city as only some will publish those documents online.

Lots of money has been expended in fighting for your attention.

They chose their government with guns.  (Mass graves in the Bosnia Hillside. I traveled here in 1999.)

They chose their government with guns. (Mass graves in the Bosnia Hillside. I traveled here in 1999.)

Overseas, more than 160,000 U.S. troops are defending our safety, security, freedom to engage in very imperfect speech, and our right to vote from foreign and domestic threats.

There are ninety-five people who are vying to be responsible for those troops and who otherwise claim to have a vision for our nation’s future. They are running for the United States House of Representatives in 27 Florida congressional districts. If you happen to live in Florida’s Second Congressional District, I would particularly like to highlight the candidacy of moderate-Democrat Gwen Graham–an attorney and education advocate who happens also to be the daughter of popular former Florida Governor and Senator Bob Graham. You can visit her website here to learn more.

Five names will appear on the ballot for office of Governor, with a further five candidates available for election as write in candidates. These are the websites for the two major political candidates, Charlie Crist and Rick Scott.

Many people will leave the rest of the ballot blank. Consider not doing this. Importantly, we get to decide who our state’s chief prosecutor is–which is pretty neat!  Also, if you plan on voting for Amendment Two (medical marijuana legalization) than you had better stay in your voting booth long enough to vote for George Sheldon–because, in my opinion, if Pam Bondi is reelected she will do everything in her power to prevent the implementation of medicinal marijuana no matter the will of the voters or the will of medical practitioners!  These are the websites for the major political candidates for Attorney General, George Sheldon and Pam Bondi.

As respected political commentator Matt Isbell explains, as most real power over our daily lives is wielded by local government, it is important to focus on your local county commission races. His extensive analysis can be found here. Or, if you prefer to wait a day, it’ll probably end-up being cut and pasted on Politico, the Daily Kos, or the Huffington Post. He grew up in Cooper City, and really hopes incumbent commissioner, and part-time alleged cartoon super-villain, Jon Sims gets voted off his boyhood local council.

I have also prepared individual county guides in local, judicial, and special district elections for Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Leon counties.

In any event, whoever you support–everyone has done their job.

Now it is our turn to do our job.

Vote!

If you have trouble voting, call 844-FL-Votes.

Richard Junnier behind the scenes

In 2012, Attorney Richard Junnier served as Chair of the Leon County Democratic Party and Executive Committee. He practices law throughout the state of Florida, often on issues related to election and campaign finance law. His law firm’s website is www.JunnierLaw.com.

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.

Miami-Dade County Guide to Non-Partisan County, Judicial, and Special District Elections

Richard Junnier behind the scenes

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

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

This guide is intended to help undecided voters throughout Miami-Dade 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 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 Miami-Dade 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: Lakes by the Bay South Community Development District Seat 5 candidate William A. Pacetti III has a well documented and long history of commitment to his community.

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: The Miami Herald revoked its endorsement of sitting Judge Jacqueline “Jackie” Schwartz after she allegedly behaved inappropriately with a small business owner over a campaign sign–she also allegedly still sends out mailers saying she is endorsed by the Herald.

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 Miami Herald’s analysis of each race.

Miami-Dade County Judge
Juez Del Condado

Jij Konte

Group 19:
Grupo 19:
Gwoup 19:

I will not disclose the political affiliation of judicial candidates.

Frank Bocanegra
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Jacqueline “Jackie” Schwartz (Incumbent) 
Campaign Webstie
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Caution: The Miami Herald has retracted its endorsement of her reelection due to questions of her temperament, but reportedly, she is still sending out mailers saying she is endorsed by the Miami Herald.

Miami-Dade Property Appraiser
Tasador De Inmuebles
Evalyate Pwopriyete

Pedro J. Garcia REPUBLICAN
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Eddy Gonzalez REPUBLICAN
Campaign Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Lakes by the Bay South Community Development District
Distrito De Desarrollo De La Comunidad
Distrik Devlopman Kominote

Seat 5:
Escano 5:
Syej 5:

Danny Dinicola 
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

William A. Pacetti III (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT 
No Website found
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Note: 2010 he was given a certificate of appreciation from the Miami-Dade County Commission. 

The view outside "Verde."  It is, I must say, an appropriate artistic expression for Miami politics.  When the new owner of the iconic Miami Herald Building was refused permission to build a casino, he spontaneously exploded half his building to treat tourists with a  perpetual view of what he thought about the government's decision.

The view outside “Verde.” It is, I must say, an appropriate artistic expression for Miami politics. When the new owner of the iconic Miami Herald Building was refused permission to build a casino, he spontaneously exploded half his building to treat tourists with a perpetual view of what he thought about the government’s decision.

Midtown Miami Community Development District
Distrito De Desarrollo De Law Comunidad
Distrik Devlopman Kominote

Seat 1:
Escano 1:
Syej 1:

Luis Baez NPA
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Joseph Padula NPA
No Website Found
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Now wasn’t that last one helpful? Why on Earth is a group that handles $80,000,000 so unknown?

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

Recommendations for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit and Miami-Dade 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. (Though the Group 70 race offers candidates who come uncomfortably close.) 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:

11th Circuit Judges

Group 16: Thomas Aquinas Cobitz

Group 26: Rodney “Rod” Smith*

Group 27: Mary Gomez

Group 58: Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts

Group 67: Fleur Jeannine Lobree*

Group 70: Veronica Diaz

Miami-Dade County Judges

Group 19: Jacqueline Schwartz*

Group 36: Nuria Saenz*

*Denotes that the recommended candidate is also the incumbent.

Analysis of 11th Circuit Judicial Candidates:

Group 16: Thomas Aquinas Cobitz Both candidates in this race are highly qualified and admired in the legal community. Mr. Cobitz has spent nearly 25 years both as a prosecutor and in private practice. He is also a renowned volunteer in his community. He is a crime watch volunteer, Chair of the Miami Civilian Investigation Panel, and Vice Chair of the Miami-Dade County Criminal Court Committee. His Florida Bar service includes his role as Chair of the Florida Supreme Court’s Traffic Court Rules Committee. He has also worked as both a hearing officer and as a magistrate.

Stephen Millan has also been a prosecutor and a solo-practitioner–mainly specializing in criminal and immigration law. Although his legal career has been impressive, I have failed to identify any extracurricular activities suggesting a serious commitment to public service, particularly when compared to Mr. Cobitz’s near-non-stop volunteerism. The Miami Harold’s endorsement of Mr. Millan includes “As the father of five sons ages 9 through 16, we suspect Mr. Millan knows a thing or two about mediation and listening to both sides.” Being a parent is very challenging, but parental status does not actually evidence qualification for judicial office. Mr. Cobitz has proven his ability to “mediate” through being a hearing officer and magistrate–surely that’s the qualification more relevant to evidence someone’s mediation ability.

You can read the Herald’s endorsement of Mr. Cobitz here.

Mr. Cobitz has several other endorsements, including one which incites concern. Mr. Cobitz is endorsed by the Florida Family Coalition–an ultra right wing cornucopia of hate and homophobia. You can read various statements issued by the Florida Family Coalition here

Under the topic “Homosexual Agenda.” You can read about all the judicial candidates FFC supports, here.

I recommend Thomas Aquinas Cobitz.

Group 26: Rodney “Rod” Smith*

Judge Rodney Smith was also endorsed by the FFC, but his opponent, Christian Carrazana, a personal injury lawyer who was fired from his firm when he refused to withdrawal his candidacy, has a very thin legal resume and I have been unable to identify any extracurricular activities commemorating a staunch commitment to public service.

Judge Smith meanwhile has experience both as a county and circuit court judge and has an extensive record of community volunteerism and public service. I recommend Judge Rodney Smith be retained.

Group 27: Mary Gomez

Both candidates in this race are highly accomplished and respected.

Mary Gomez graduated in the top 3% of her class and has approximately 20 years experience. She has even endured a stint at prestigious Carlton Fields (they don’t hire people unless they are hyper-competent). Her community commitment is evidenced with her work for a religious charity and organizations which assist the homeless and victims of sex trafficking. She has a reputation for a very even-temperament, which no doubt has served her well in her family law practice. She has also served as a mediator and magistrate. She has been endorsed by the homophobic Florida Family Collation but has exercised excellent judgment in refusing to acknowledge it on her endorsement’s page.

Alberto Milian has been a career prosecutor with an 80% conviction rate. He has also served in the Army Reserve for 18 years, ultimately as a military intelligence captain. He has volunteered overseas twice. While I deeply respect his service, his reputation in the legal community is questionable with allegations of being overzealous (causing at least one conviction to be overturned) and discourteous (if not explosive) toward defense attorneys. He has twice run for State Attorney and lost.

You can read a slip opinion discussing one instance of Mr. Milian’s alleged temper here.

Please keep in mind this is from an incident in the distant past.

While Mr. Milian is a highly accomplished advocate and has served our country honorably, I recommend the even-tempered and decorous Mary Gomez.

Group 58: Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts

Both candidates in this race are highly qualified and have demonstrated extraordinary community commitment. Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts served as an Assistant City Attorney for Miami, which assures he has a multiplicity of high-volume civil litigation experience. He has also been an assistant public defender which means he has a solid background in criminal law. He has been a staffer for two U.S. congressmen, and his bar service includes Chair of the Florida Bar Grievance Committee–this is the committee that hears complaints against lawyers. He also donates his time to many local non-profits.

Martin Zilber has practiced law with distinction for more than twenty-five years. His practice includes mediation services and he has worked for sundry law firms. He performed a brief internship with the state attorney’s office while in law school. His community involvement is impressive–including several appointments to citizen advisory boards and the Super Bowl Host Committee.

Though the Miami Herald endorsed Mr. Zilber based upon his experience as a traffic court hearing officer, I believe Mr. Rodriguez-Fonts’ experience as Chair of the Florida Bar Grievance Committee is a much more impressive display of quasi-judicial experience. (It is also a very hard position to get.)

You can find the Herald’s recommendation here.

I recommend Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts.

Group 67: Fleur Jeannine Lobree*

Judge Fleur Jeannine Lobree has practiced law for twenty-two years. First as a Florida assistant attorney general, then as a judicial clerk for the Third DCA, then as an assistant state attorney, and finally in private practice as a civil litigator. She was appointed to the county court, and when, one year later, she lost reelection to her seat, the legal community grieved her loss. She was subsequently appointed to the Circuit Court.

Mavel Ruiz has spent her entire career helping the defenseless and the oppressed. She has served as an assistant public defender, owned a criminal defense practice, and currently works one of the most thankless but very necessary legal positions in creation–the Office of Regional Conflict Counsel. No sane person should suggest that she lacks a heart of gold and is one of the more exemplary members of our species. She would probably make an excellent city commissioner or legislator.

Nevertheless, due to her more diverse experience, including prior judicial experience, I recommend that Fleur Jeannine Lobree be retained.

Group 70: Veronica Diaz

For some this may be a difficult vote. Veronica Diaz has spent time working with non-profits and seven years as a Miami assistant city attorney–which typically allows for a range of civil litigation experience. However, she has been accused of an only-very-barely legal impropriety involving sending city business, through a third party, to her fiance’s law firm–without telling anyone.

You can read the Miami Herald’s account here.

Renier Diaz de la Portilla is a controversial politician, has a mediation business, and very little legal experience. Based upon his statements as a school board member, his understanding of the separation of church and state is questionable. (He proposed a bible study course for public schools–though, of course, this may have just been politics and not reflective of what he would do as a judge.)

Both candidates are thirty-six and neither offers an overwhelming wealth of judicial experience.

Despite the allegations against Ms. Diaz, she was not determined to have violated the ethics rules. Also, the City Attorney asserted that she herself was the one who made the decision to hire Ms. Diaz’s fiancé’s firm.

Because of her superior legal experience, I recommend Veronica Diaz.

Analysis of Miami-Dade County Judicial Candidates:

Group 19: Jacqueline Schwartz*

Judge Jacqueline Schwartz has served on the Miami-Dade bench for twelve years after having spent many years as a trial attorney. She is a “big sister,” vice president of a local charity that provides clothing to victims of child abuse, organizes the annual “Law Day” for school children, and spent several years as an adjunct law professor.   Troublingly, she is also endorsed by the FFC (though she wisely makes no mention of it).

She has two challengers. Frank Bocanegra was admitted to practice law in 2008. Prior to joining the Bar, he served thirty years as an incredibly respected and accomplished law enforcement officer (retired a major) and has also briefly served as town manager of Miami Lakes. Rachel Dooley has practiced for more than 16 years both as a prosecutor and in private practice. Her endorsements include the League of Prosecutors and SAVE PAC (a respected marriage equality advocacy group). Neither opponent seem to have a remarkable record of volunteerism or record of organized nonlegal-related public service.

Both of her opponents are qualified, but Judge Schwartz has served without controversy for twelve years, consistently closes more cases than any other county judge, and frequently finds time to volunteer in the community.

I recommend Judge Jacqueline Schwartz be retained.

Group 36: Nuria Saenz*

While Judge Jacqueline Schwartz may close the most cases, Nuria Saenz consistently has the least number of pending cases. She has served on the county bench since 2005 without controversy. Prior to her judicial service she has served as a magistrate and as a general and special master. She began her career working for Legal Aid despite being in a position to accept much higher paying jobs in the private sector. Like myself, but only a few others, while in law school she served both as a Law Review editor and as a member of the moot court. (Serving on a Law Review or on the Moot Court are highly prestigious, very competitive, and tremendously time consuming. In any given year only a handful of law students in the state get appointed to both.)

Victoria Ferrer is a real-estate broker and has practiced law for about eight years. While in law school she clerked for a local probate judge. She is also, by all accounts, very eloquent and passionate about people.

Judge Saenz’s experience makes her the more qualified candidate and I recommend that she be retained.

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

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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.