All posts by Jaaber

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 …

TUESDAY NOTES

Thoughts and prayers Marc Gold suffered a mild heart attack while on vacation in South Africa.  He’s doing fine, and managed a personal phone call to Peter Weinstein to make sure his criminal division was in order.  He should be leaving for the States shortly, after doctors are certain the long flight won’t be a bother.  Send a prayer to the Heyer/Gold family, and to all those defendants awaiting sentencing who may get stuck with a new judge while Marc is out recuperating …

Congrats! – the Public Defender and the SAO are losing a homicide lawyer each.  APD Gabe Ermine is out the door, Broward’s newest criminal PA.  Gabe says it was a difficult choice, but the right one for his ever-expanding family.  Gregg Rossman is leaving the SAO for similar reasons.  He’s partnering with David Bauman, who recently lost existing partner Dan Kanner to the county court bench.  But unlike Dan and Gabe, Gregg’s plans don’t include taking criminal cases.  Well done!

Bob Norman, Part II – speaking of Gregg Rossman, Bob Norman interviewed him last week in conjunction with the Coral Springs homicide case where detectives believe they may have the wrong guy in custody.  Click here to see the rest of the story, which aired Tuesday.  We’ve got a lot more coming on this one, together with a trip down exoneration lane, forever named in Satz’s honor.  Developing …

ECO madness – Broward isn’t the only place where the judicial canons are being tested by ECO sponsored advertising.  St. Lucie judge Phil Yacucci, facing a challenge from Steve Smith, won a temporary injunction shutting down an ECO sponsored website, which was digging a little too deep for incumbent comfort.  George Shahood issued the order, and now it’s up to the Fourth DCA to see if it sticks.  TC Palm has the story here.  In the meantime, back in Broward, everyone is talking about the anti-Jahra McLawrence  ads, including some reporters we know.  Do they run afoul of the Canons, and generally speaking, can a candidate be held responsible?  Or are ECO’s the new face of judicial elections?  Stay tuned …

Fun in the Sunshine – click here for Lynn Feig Rosenthal’s judicial application, redactions courtesy of Rick Scott’s Office of Open Government.

Coming SoonWho is “The Source”?

MOTHER JONES PROFILES AL SMITH AND THE PDO

YOU MAKE THE CALL!

attack 12

attack 11

Hate Mail?  … Or Turnabout is Fair Play?

McLawrence 1

                YOU MAKE THE CALL!

                 (click to enlarge photos)

BBeat/Broward Consultants Get Hands Dirty in Dade

Coming SoonMichael Schneider, the JQC’s new Executive Director, and Steve DeLuca, its newest member …

(Thanks to Anonymous Tipsters)

bn Innocent?

Bob Norman/Detectives ‘convinced’ murder suspect is innocent

(Part II Tuesday Night)

WPLG MONDAY

Something straight out of The Keystone Cops came our way last week, but seeing as how the punch line is anything but a laughing matter, we sent it over to Bob Norman for the attention it deserves.

It’s about an inmate sitting in the BCJ charged with Murder One, and some Detectives who may believe he’s innocent.

Channel 10 has the story Monday, so stay tuned …

DBR/Meet Ed Merrigan

Tamarac Talk Endorsements

DBR/Milian v. Gomez (Miami)

LA Times Editorial/No Condoms For Porn Stars