Rumpole endorses BRONYWN MILLER FOR RETENTION:
Mr. George Alvarez is running against Judge Miller for a spot on the County Court bench. Mr. Alvarez appears to be a nice man. He is said to be even tempered and his friends say he has the perfect disposition for a county court judge. Mr. Alvarez also has experience outside of the law, serving on the Westchester Community Council.
Bronwyn Miller was appointed to the bench in March of 2005 by the current Governor. Judge Miller came to the bench with exceptional experience from her time as a prosecutor in the Dade County State Attorneys Office. She was a training attorney at the time of her appointment, and prior to that she was one of the more active prosecutors in trial, handling complex capital prosecutions as well as other cases. Her reputation among the judges and lawyers in the REGJB could not have been better.
We believe a lawyer should assume the bench with the type of legal experience necessary to do the job. As a trial lawyer ourselves, we believe the very best experience comes from trying cases.
The normal litigant appears in court seeking justice, which on the county court level, is most often delivered by the Judge. We believe that a lawyer who has been through the fire of jury trials obtains the necessary experience and prospective that can only be gained when you have stood in front of a jury on behalf of a client or the State of Florida.
The effects of trying 50 or a 100 cases molds the character of a lawyer in a way like no other. Much like the metal of character being pounded on anvils in the fire of trial, what you thought you knew gradually is replaced by what you learn, until you emerge, many years later, different, wiser, with more prospective on life.
Not every strong arm robbery deserves 20 years in prison, and not every person convicted of DUI deserves to go to jail.
A wise lawyer is one who learns from their jury trials. You celebrate the victories, but more importantly, you learn from your defeats.
As a citizen of this state, do we really want an attorney like Mr. Alvarez to learn about jury trials while sitting on the bench? Yes, it does happen. But in our view, the effects are disastrous.
We have walked away from too many jury trials conducted by Judges who tried few or no cases in their career and seen the look of sadness, anger, or disgust in a police officer’s eyes, or seen the look of horror in a family member’s eyes as a Judge with no experience issued a sentence beyond all reason.
The bench is not a place to learn. It is a place to teach.
Those of us with more than a few years experience remember fondly the late Judge C. P. Rubiera, who went out of his way to teach young prosecutors and public defenders how to be lawyers. What can Mr. Alvarez teach a DUI prosecutor who already has tried 6 or 8 cases, when Mr. Alvarez to our knowledge has not had any jury trials?
Judge Miller has the experience necessary to do the job, and George Alvarez does not. It is as simple as that, and that is why we are endorsing Judge Bronwyn Miller.
We choose this race as our first endorsement for one other important reason.
The bar requires attorneys to work for the betterment of the Judiciary. We believe this means that an attorney should not run against a qualified Judge merely because the attorney thinks he or she can win the election. We do not know if that is the case here. However, we suspect it is.
In this current age of politics in Dade County, we all know that there is a distinct advantage to running with a Hispanic sur name. Just ask defeated candidate Fritz Mann how well he did when he ran.
Judge Miller has been a fine Judge during the short time she has been on the bench. As a prosecutor she tried many cases, authored a scholarly article on an issue of evidence, and served on the boards of various legal organizations.
Mr. Alvarez should answer this question to the lawyers of Miami and the voters of Dade County: without mentioning any specific rulings which is prohibited by the rules of ethics, why should Judge Miller be replaced?
There are several candidates running against sitting Judges who could respond to that question by pointing out that the Judge has a reputation for being rude, or was sanctioned by the JQC. None of those factors seem to apply here, and unless Mr. Alvarez can answer that question, we are left with the conclusion that he is running against Judge Miller because he thinks he can win.
The judiciary is supposed to be better than that.
Lawyers are supposed to act with more dignity than that.
We all lose when a qualified judge with the experience that Judge Miller has is replaced for no reason other than her opponent had a more popular name.
Rumpole endorses Judge Bronwyn Miller for retention.
Kudos to the several alert readers who emailed us that Judge Miller has not been elected, she was appointed, so we endorse her retention not re-election.