THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
ELECTION UPDATE .....
Welcome to our eighth in a series. Over the past seven weeks, we have brought you seven of the nine contested races analyzing the judicial elections in Miami-Dade County. In Week One, we focused on the only contested County Court race of Lindsay v. Lesperance. Since then, we have provided you with the Circuit Court races of Cueto v. Velis; Migna v. Manny, Colodny v. Kopco v. Millan, Garcia v. Glick, Corona v. Cynamon and Caballero v. Chumbley.
As we reported on May 2, 2008 on this blog, there are nine contested races here in Miami-Dade County; eight in the Circuit Court and one in the County Court. Today we cover the race in Group 55 between incumbent Judge Geri Beth Cohen and her opponent Abbie Cuellar. Next week we will rap it up with the Bernard Shapiro race.
JERI BETH COHEN (i) .....
Judge Jeri Beth Cohen has been a member of The Florida Bar for 22 years. She educated herself at Boston U, Harvard, and earned her JD at Georgetown Law School. She was a practicing attorney from 1986-1992 when she was elected a County Court Judge. She spent four years on the bench, in the Criminal Division, and in 1996 she ran, unopposed, for a Circuit Court seat. She has spent the past 12 years in the Juvenile Division and the General Jurisdiction Division.
Judge Cohen has a long history of community involvement both off and on the bench. The list is long and I would direct you to her website to read all about her background. Of note, she began one of the first Dependency Drug Court programs in the country in 1999.
Judge Cohen has not avoided controversy while on the bench. While challenger Cuellar can actually claim being shot at (see below), Judge Cohen can only admit to shooting herself in the foot, a few times. There was the comment about Hispanics many years ago that first got her in trouble. This year, her campaign manager's secretary inadvertently sent out a campaign letter to several prominent attorneys; the letter included the names of several attorneys who had not in fact endorsed her. Then she showed up at the Coral Gables Democratic Club meeting and gave a speech. Only problem - that was a violation of Canon 7 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. She admitted the violation and apologized.
Judge Cohen has been in the news of late; she is the Judge on the City-County-Marlins v. Norman Braman lawsuit. By all accounts, she seems to be doing a great job given the very complicated legal issues and the public nature of the case.
All this publicity has not hurt her one bit in the fundraising category. She has blown away her competitor and The Captain is impressed with the 806 attorneys who have donated over $190,000 to her campaign. Judge Cohen has kicked in an additional $100k.
Check out Judge Cohen at judgejeribethcohen.com.
ABBIE CUELLAR ....
Ms. Cuellar has been a member of The Florida Bar for 11 years. She earned her legal degree from Rutgers Law School. She runs a solo practice with a concentration in Family law and Criminal law. She is also a Guardian Ad Litem Staff Attorney and has been very committed in that area.
Ms. Cuellar made the news in March when she was driving her Infiniti SUV and suddenly two men jumped out of a van and started shooting a hail of bullets at her windshield. She pulled a Starsky & Hutch reverse move and survived with cuts from the flying glass.
Ms. Cuellar, along with attorney Alan Mishael, represented real estate developer (and former sports agent) Joe Cubas and his wife last year in their unsuccessful effort to become the permanent guardians for a five year old Cuban girl. The Judge - Jeri Beth Cohen. It was the decisions of the Judge and the way she handled the case that motivated Cuellar to run against Cohen.
Cuellar reports raising no money as of her last filing. She did contribute $15,000 of her own money to the campaign.
You can check out abbieforjudge.com for the Cuellar campaign.
Please do your homework on the two candidates. Help out our readers by giving us your comments, pro and con, on each of the candidates.
The election takes place on Tuesday, August 26, 2008.
CAPTAIN OUT .........
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