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

20 thoughts on “WAVE OF THE FUTURE”

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    ECOs or not, you got to hand it to Broward judges since they’ve played dirty for a long time whether they’ve been found out or not. There’s a certain sleaze that’s followed the campaigns of Broward’s finest, especially as to fund raising tactics and oily backroom deals with condo commandos. Remember when judges used to run around with checks sticking out of their pockets? It’s the same deal now, they’re just playing the game a little closer to the vest these days.
    Broward’s the place where dirty politics find their way into everything, especially when there’s a pension involved.

    In my view, Rosenthal isn’t fit to clean toilets, let alone judge others. She’s proven that more than once lately. The rest of the birds in black will circle the wagons around her anyway because it could be them the next time who get opposition. That’s almost as dirty a word to them as having to go back to working a real job. And Weinstein says Broward needs more judges? He’s the biggest laugh of all.

  2. 0


    Krasen is being funded by united auto and insurance defense lawyers. I’m not supporting him and ask u don’t either. United auto is not the type of entity that should participate in selecting judges. Spread the word.

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    What does anyone expect? Lawyers with talent pay more to the dry cleaner in a year than Judge’s earn. Until something is done like paying Judges a good salary then it will always be what it is.

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    Okay, I give up, along with many others: What in Hell is an ECO? Seems to me, Bill, you might want to share this “inside baseball” term with the rest of us who have no earthly idea what you are talking about. Jack Thompson

  5. 0


    This Rosenthal is a real piece of work! I wouldn’t vote for this chick if she was the only whacked-out broward judge running for the job. She’s running away from something alright.

  6. 0


    Buy stock in the companies that produce xanax and ambien. Both look very attractive right now. If she wins sell 8/27 for a short term gain, and hold indefinitely if she loses for long term profits.

  7. 0


    Rosenthal will win. I have no faith in the system. The old voters all like cattle and do as they are told. It will come down to money and the challenger has none.

  8. 0


    Jack – ECOs are Electioneering Communication Organizations. They may not “expressly advocate” the election or defeat of a candidate, but the communication must be susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate. (106.011(18), F.S.) A person can donate unlimited amounts to the ECO which are not considered contributions to a candidate.

    In a judicial race where the candidates cannot attach each other, the “independent” ECO serves as a cutout and does the dirty campaigning, while the candidates stand on the moral high ground and say they didn’t send out any attack ads.

    The ECOs usually have harmless sounding names like “Citizens for a Better Judiciary” or “Citizens for More Responsive Government” [names made up as examples only].

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    Could one person collect a lot of money from lawyers that don’t like a Judge for an ECO? That way the ECO donor information would show up only in the name of the one person? That way individual lawyers that might be afraid to support the removal of a Judge could help without any risk because the Judge couldn’t trace the money back to the lawyers appearing in court? I’m wondering for a Judge up in 2016.

  10. 0


    Judge Rosenthal should have taken the tests. Now I’m wondering what if she was hiding something like Marijuana or some other drugs?

  11. 0


    I only take Xanax because they stopped making Valium. I only took Valium because I hate myself. But since I don’t take Valium anymore it means I’m ok and everyone else is the problem.

  12. 0


    C’mon BACDL!!! Let’s start our own ECO! We can all put in a fund to help a good lawyer who wants to do right by Broward fight the Alain Jean’s who have decided our judicial system is for sale. Time to step up!

  13. 0


    bacdl do anything? Yeah, right. Where you been? bacdl has never done anything but protect bad judges in this town. it’s the worst kept secret around. these jokers are worse than the crappy broward judges they whine about.

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