Category Archives: Palm Beach County

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.

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.

Palm Beach County Guide to Non-Partisan County, School Board, and Special District Elections.

Richard Junnier behind the scenes

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

Thank you for visiting the Adventure Lawyer’s “Palm Beach County Guide to Non-Partisan County, School Board, and Special District Elections.”

This guide is intended to help undecided voters throughout Palm Beach 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 non-partisan county, school board, and special district board election appearing on the November 4, 2014 ballot. For reasons of thoroughness, It also lists the candidates for the partisan Port of Palm Beach Commission Group Five race.

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 Palm Beach 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 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: For example, Port of Palm Beach Group 5 Candidate Peyton McArthur, endorsed by the Palm Beach Post, has spent years as the Port’s HR Director and is currently Chief Assistant to Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Paulette Burdick.

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: For example, Palm Beach Soil & Water Conservation District Group Five Candidate Karl Dickey is a registered Libertarian. While Libertarians, who generally deny the scientific fact of global climate change, have a place in the American political discussion, you probably don’t want to charge them with keeping the public up-to-date on a problem they don’t believe exists. Which is, after all, one of the key responsibilities of the Palm Beach Soil & Water Conservation District.

Media Coverage

When available, I offer a link to media analysis of each race.  This is a list of the Palm Beach Post’s endorsements.

Adventuring at Palm Beach's Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. If you have never been, be sure to hit up the cafe--it is very cheap, and the food is authentically great!

Adventuring at Palm Beach’s Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. If you have never been, be sure to hit up the cafe–it is very cheap, and the food is authentically great!

Palm Beach County School Board

District 4:

Tom Sutterfield REPUBLICAN  
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Endorsed by the Palm Beach Post

Erica Whitfield DEMOCRAT
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Port of Palm Beach 

 Group 5 (Partisan):

Peyton McArthur DEMOCRAT
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Particularly High Qualified Candidate: Served 6 years as the Port Authority HR Director and is currently Chief Assistant to Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Paulette Burdick.

Kesnel Theus Jr REPUBLICAN
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report 

Palm Beach Soil & Water Conservation District 

Group  5:

Karl Dickey LIBERTARIAN
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report
Note; The Candidate contacted me concerning the “caution” below and responded that his intentions for the PBSWCD are not represented by the official Libertarian Party of Florida’s platform. He offered a link to a post stating his goals for the PBSWCD. Therefore, in addition to the link to his campaign Facebook page, above, you can find out more about his specific ideas for the PBSWCD here.
Caution: The Environmental Platform of the Libertarian Party of Florida is incongruous with the purpose of the Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation District and states as follows:

X. ENVIRONMENT 1. Aside from public safety, there is no greater concern for the people of Florida than having a safe, healthy environment. We look forward to the day when all property not required for police and court functions are returned to private ownership and control. 2. We call for the restoration of every individual’s ancient, common law standing to sue for trespass any individual, business, government or other group that pollutes his or her property. 3. We oppose creation of new government parks or wilderness and recreation areas. Such parks and areas that already exist should be transferred to non-government ownership. Pending such transfer, their operating costs should be borne by their users rather than by taxpayers. 4. We support efforts to hold all individuals, businesses and governments accountable for the pollution they cause.

Eva S. Webb (Incumbent) DEMOCRAT
No Website Found
No Campaign Finance Information Found

horse

Indian Trail Improvement District

Here is Town Crier’s Coverage of a Candidates’ Forum. 

Seat 1:

Michael W Erickson DEMOCRAT
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Jennifer Hager REPUBLICAN
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Seat 3:

Ralph Bair (Incumbent) REPUBLICAN
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Alan Ballweg DEMOCRAT
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report

Seat 5:

Carol Jacobs (Incumbent) REPUBLICAN
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report 

Betty Argue DEMOCRAT
Website
Latest Campaign Finance Report 

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 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.