Rosenthal v. McLawrence – it’s an easy win for Lynn Rosenthal, which everyone but the dreamers expected.  But as Jahra McLawrence points out, leadership involves much more than winning an election.

From McLawrence’s Facebook page:

I hope that more attorneys will stand up and challenge the status quo.  The unsuspecting community is depending on you to protect them from an unfair and unreasonable legal system.”

Truer words have never been said.

As far as Rosenthal is concerned, she’s not out of the woods just yet.  Her victory simply poses more questions.

For instance:

1.)  Will she face JQC prosecution for refusing drug testing following her DUI arrest, and for making public statements during the campaign which seem to contradict the BAT video?

2.) Will Peter Weinstein allow Rosenthal and other DUI refusnik judges to return to the Criminal Division, and will Mike Satz, Howard Finkelstein, and BACDL put up a fight?

3.)  Will the life-lessons inherent to any arrest, universal bad press, and the rigors of being challenged at the polls humble Rosenthal, thereby transforming her into a less controversial judge?  Or will the entire experience harden her already rigid outlook on the world of criminal justice?  Similarly, what effect, if any, will the embarrassment of having run a haphazard campaign and being psyched out of more than $160,000 in personal funds have on her judicial world view?

Definitely a lot more coming on this one …

Meet Judge Al Milian – good news out of Miami, as Al easily won a spot on the circuit bench.  Many remember him as a relentless Broward prosecutor, but he’s spent a lot longer since then defending with equal passion and zeal.  On a personal note, we couldn’t be happier.  When asked, Al would gladly co-counsel gratis on cases south of the border when deserving individuals with bright futures were facing incredible odds.  His local gravitas always got the job done, with one young man he helped us with now a successful engineer with the Chrysler Corporation in Detroit.  Al’s simply a great guy, and will make a great judge.  Well done!

In Palm Beach Jessica Ticktin has cleaned incumbent Diana Lewis’ clock.  Ticktin benefitted from the massive name recognition of her Dad Peter Ticktin’s heavily advertised eponymous law firm, not to mention Lewis’ reputation for being a little nasty demeanor-wise …

In St. Lucie – incumbent Phil Yacucci is still a judge, despite the now dormant website  This one got extremely heated, to the point police got involved following a confrontation between challenger and incumbent at the polls.  Watch the linked video to see how far this grudge match has gone …

In November – primary winner Rhoda Sokoloff will face off against Dennis Bailey.  Sokoloff, like judge Mardi Levey Cohen, may prove that repeated runs and sheer determination often pay off.  Wait and see.

Congratulations, Stacey! Stacey Schulman is now a circuit judge, fulfilling a life long dream.  She was a fair prosecutor, and is a family friend of the ever-reasonable Susan Lebow, so all indications point to a distinguished career on the bench.  On a personal note, judge Schulman sat on the bar grievance committee which disposed of the nonsensical, anti-American, anonymous bar complaints against your humble author, which took courage.  Congratulations are also due to Julie Shapiro Harris, who may now be considering a run to replace her current employer at the Clerk’s Office, Howard FormanThe third time may be the charm

Good for Broward Ian Richards easily won the primary.  He’ll face off against Claudia Robinson in November, with Jonathan Kasen eliminated after a severe trouncing.  We like Claudia, but never thought Ian deserved any of this, particularly since he’s a hard worker, and one of the few Blacks on the bench.  In any event, Broward voters get the credit, because a qualified minority candidate received the support he deserves …

Giant Killer John Contini replaces Katie McHugh in the role of David.  McHugh faced down damaged political powerhouse Ilene Lieberman to win her seat on the bench, and tonight Contini knocked out incumbent Steve Feren, whose long political career in Broward County has ended in similarly undistinguished style.  Broward voters once again get the credit, for seeing behind the curtain.  Feren didn’t make many friends during his brief tenure at the courthouse, but he did provide some amusing moments during the campaign, which we’ll be sure to highlight as Chief Judge election season nears …


Coming SoonGisele Pollack v. JQC trial?; Conflict? What conflict?


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 is back online …


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


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” <>
Date: August 17, 2014 at 8:52:32 PM EDT
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.


Frantz J McLawrence


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



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.