MONDAY NOTES

Campaign Finance - Jahra McLawrence has overtaken Lynn Rosenthal in campaign contributions.  Predictably, Rosenthal started strong, but the DUI arrest in May killed the golden incumbent goose.  Since the “sleep driving” problems arose, she’s raised peanuts, with corresponding gains by the underdog challenger.  As of August 8th, the last reporting period, McLawrence had collected $47,237, to Rosenthal’s $44,662.  The challenger even boasts a combined  $1000 donation by Past President of the Florida Bar Eugene Pettis and his law firm, made on August 5th.  According to the most recent numbers, McLawrence has spent $30,000 of his war chest, while Rosenthal has burned through an astounding $150,000, after self-financing to the tune of $145,000.  Will raw spending power eclipse the prestige of the McLawrence campaign?  Or has public opinion turned against Rosenthal to the point she can’t possibly win?  Only eight days until the election

(Click here to review all Circuit campaign finance activity)

(Click here to review all County campaign finance activity)

Who wants to be the Clerk of Courts? – names we’re hearing so far, some definitely in the rumor category: PDO Administrative Director Liz McHugh, Attorney Richard Kaplan, Clerk’s Administrator Diane Diaz, Politico Ilene Lieberman, and Clerk’s Counsel Julie Shapiro Harris (unless she’s a judge by then).  As far as the possibility of Howard Forman anointing a successor, he’s still playing coy.  Only two years until the election

SS (2001)/New Clerk Of Courts Pads Payroll With Political Allies

Who Invented The Concept Of The Public Defender? – a woman named Clara Foltz, of course, way back in the 1890′s.  Read all about her here

Strung out in heaven’s high, hitting an all-time low …

ECO Update - with George Shahood’s Order stayed, The Truth About Yacucci.com is back online …

Coming Soon - DIVISION MM IS DEAD! LONG LIVE DIVISION MM!

JQC v. Hawkins/Judith Hawkins pleads for her judicial life

SS/Voting light at early sites and mail balloting 

Mayo/To pick Broward judges, try a dartboard

LA Times/LAPD’s in-car camera effort is lagging

HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME

Early Voting began Friday, but things are red-hot already.  The following email was sent by the normally unflappable Jahra McLawrence to Lynn Rosenthal earlier this evening, provided to JAABLOG by a witness to one of the confrontations described below. 

And the election is still nine days away …

From: “F.J. McLawrence” <info@mclawrencelaw.com>
Date: August 17, 2014 at 8:52:32 PM EDT
To: keepjudgerosenthal@gmail.com
Subject: Inappropriate Contact

Lynn Rosenthal,

It has come to my attention that your husband (Mitch Rosenthal) has approached at least two of my volunteers in a threatening and intimidating manner.  He has angrily suggested that he would disclose my booking photo from 1996; presumably under your direction and control.  This photo has been known to the public and depicts me as a 22 year old college sophomore.  As I have made no attempt to conceal my past experiences, the content of his rant is not an issue.

My primary concern is that your husband obviously thought it was appropriate to approach my volunteer in Tamarac today, a young female approximately twenty years his junior, in a disturbed and aggressive manner.  He walked over to her, approximately 30 feet away, and launched a barrage of verbal threats.  The volunteer was intimated by his demeanor and afraid that she would be subjected to further assault if she continued to distribute my literature.

Additionally, another McLawrence Campaign volunteer told me of an argument that transpired when Mr. Rosenthal approached him in Coral Springs and continued his aggressive and un-professional behavior.

Even more, this inappropriate behavior is not limited to Mr. Rosenthal.  When I sent another member of my campaign to Tamarac to assess the situation, and to reassure the young female volunteer, she too was approached in a violent manner by a woman, apparently employed by your campaign, wearing your paraphernalia screaming insults as she grew near.  Fortunately, this more seasoned volunteer was able to defuse the situation as the security officer stood nearby.

Please note that I have not made any inappropriate comments about you or your campaign.  Instead, I have merely reprinted excerpts from articles previously published in local newspapers.  So, if your husband or any other member of your campaign has a problem with what has been printed in the newspapers, then I suggest they confront those media outlets directly.

This aggressive behavior toward my volunteers is completely inappropriate and simply will not be tolerated. If anyone from your campaign has a problem with me or my campaign, then you should contact me directly. My email address is readily available on the bar website and my phone number is on every piece of literature that has been publicly distributed.

There is no need for a mature man of his years to continually attempt to intimidate young female volunteers while they are actively engaged in the political process. As a result, I hereby demand that your husband, MITCH ROSENTHAL, control his behavior and refrain from any direct contact with any volunteers of the McLawrence Campaign.

Sincerely,

Frantz J McLawrence

WAVE OF THE FUTURE

Win or lose, Team Rosenthal has made a lasting difference in Broward judicial politics.  The use of an ECO to blast opponent Jahra McLawrence may be distasteful, but not violative of the Canons or laws guiding judicial elections as currently written.

Simply put, ECO’s are the wave of the future, which is bad news for all judicial candidates, but especially for unpopular or abrasive incumbents, who suddenly look a lot more vulnerable than they ever did before.  Upset the wrong well-heeled lawyer, litigant, or party boss, and a judge could find himself no longer protected by maximum campaign contribution limits, to use but one example.  Even if Bar rules somehow apply to a vengeful, rich attorney, a non-lawyer spouse or other relative would be free to fund and direct the activities of an ECO, just as some suspect may have happened in Rosenthal v. McLawrence.

“The situation has progressed beyond where we are for oversight.”

That’s Michael Schneider, Executive Director of the JQC, who gave us a few minutes of his time on Thursday.  He said the panel has looked at ECO’s in a limited context in the past, but nothing has ever risen to the level of probable cause.  Schneider pointed out that partisanship directly contradicts “the essence of judicial elections,” but says the use of ECO’s, “a legislatively created creature,” appears “proper on its face.”

Entities take on a life of their own,” he continued, adding “with these, there’s a lot of wriggle room.”  And considering how courts vigilantly protect most forms of speech as “legitimate political expression,”  Schneider doesn’t believe it makes much difference how closely related to a candidate or sitting judge an interested ECO funder may be.  Unless the Canons are amended, or the judicial election laws changed, Schneider gave the distinct impression that judicial campaigns could be greatly impacted by ECO’s without JQC interference.

Of course, every case and campaign is different.  The Rosenthal v. McLawrence example may not have pushed the boundaries far enough.  A different set of facts may certainly cause more eyebrows to raise in Tallahassee in the future.  But given Schneider’s analysis of the current rule-book, and the recent stay issued by the Fourth DCA benefitting the ECO ripping apart incumbent Phil Yacucci, it would seem Broward judicial politics just got a whole lot messier …

Coming SoonAre Broward judges actively helping gubernatorial candidates behind the scenes?

Time/Rand Paul: We Must Demilitarize the Police

SS/More questions about Perry Thurston’s home address

Guardian/Cliff Richard sex abuse claim

SS ENDORSES FEREN, McLAWRENCE, BAILEY, SCHULMAN

SS ENDORSES FEREN, McLAWRENCE, BAILEY, SCHULMAN

Feren/Contini/”Jurists are supposed to be exemplary in judgment and temperament. Voters should expect nothing less, given the power a circuit court judge holds. Suffice it to say that neither of these candidates exemplifies the highest ideals expected of a judge.”

McLawrence/Rosenthal/”Rosenthal, 57, a former assistant U.S. attorney, showed promise, but a surprising number of attorneys tell us she lacks the measured demeanor expected of a judge. Still, she was the odds-on favorite to win this race, until her arrest in May …

After her arrest, a breath test revealed she had no alcohol in her system, but she refused to provide a blood or urine sample for toxicology testing, which was her right. She also requested that her booking photo be shielded from public viewing, another right as a former prosecutor. But as a judge and candidate for re-election, this second request suggested Rosenthal thinks the rules should be different for her …

Rosenthal’s conduct during and after what she calls “the incident” fails to reach the standards people expect of those who sit in judgment of others. During her interview with the editorial board, she talked up her qualifications, but failed to show any evidence of self-reflection or lessons learned …

McLawrence previously ran for a county judgeship in 2012 and won the primary, but lost the general election. He decided to challenge Rosenthal because, like others we’ve spoken to, he didn’t like her brash treatment of people in her courtroom.

 Judges have a great deal of power. Their decisions can change an individual’s life. Given that, citizens hold them to a higher standard of honesty, forthrightness and judgment. The “incident” was unfortunate, but moving forward should be easy for Group 8. Vote for McLawrence.

ASK LORI …

As early voting approaches, everybody’s talking about Rosenthal v. McLawrence.

Will the incumbent prevail, given her traditionally overwhelming advantages, or is an upset in the works, due to the negative publicity following Rosenthal’s handling of the DUI arrest?

Everybody has an opinion, but since it’s politics, no one can say for sure.  Still, some opinions are more informed than others, which is why we sought out Lori Parrish earlier today.  Her two cents are based on decades of winning elections in Broward, as arguably the most successful female politician in the history of the county.

Here’s what Lori had to say, after stating she’s a supporter of McLawrence:

I see it as 50/50.  From everything I can see out there, he’s doing great.  He’s on all the palm cards I’ve seen, and he’s working hard talking to the voters.  People like him.  I think he has a great shot.  Everybody I’ve talked to asking my opinions on the different races already seem to have him bubbled.

Do the negative ECO ads help or hurt Rosenthal?

I don’t know.  I can say I never went negative in my campaigns.  I wonder if certain ethnic groups are being targeted for the mailers.  There are four registered voters at my address.  Three females and one male.  Only the male has a Jewish surname, and he’s the only one who gets them.

Why are you supporting McLawrence?

He’s well-rounded, and he has the perfect personality for what’s needed on the Broward bench.  He’s humble, he’s practiced all sorts of law, and he’s served multiple tours of duty in the Navy.  He seems fair-minded, the most important thing we want from our judges.

So there you have it.  According to one of the experts, McLawrence has a good shot at winning.

It’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks until the election …

Justice Advocacy Association of Broward