RUMPOLE SAYS: 12:01.
THE EAGLE HAS LANDED!
WHO HAS OPPOSITION?
THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
QUALIFYING DAY HAS ARRIVED .....
UPDATE ..... UPDATE ..... UPDATE
Oh, dear, the trials and tribulations of Fleur Lobree.
Just before the clocked struck golden for all Incumbent judges, attorney Mavel Ruiz, formerly slotted to run in Group 70 (see below), dropped out of that Group and moved into Group 67 against Incumbent Judge Fleur Lobree.
Can you say roller coaster ride. If you are Fleur Lobree, you need a large dose of dramamine right about now. Our Blog readers have been big supporters of Her Honor. They know that she has been a member of The Florida Bar for nearly 22 years. She spent most of her time in the Appellate Division of the State Attorney's Office where she became a highly respected appellate attorney. Then she decided to throw her hat into the JNC interview process.
By all accounts, it went really well. I say that because she made it to the Governor's desk on her first try, for an open County Court seat, in 2011. In fact, Lobree was Governor Scott’s first judicial appointment in Miami-Dade County. Of course, getting appointed to an open seat means you have to run in the next scheduled election. So, now County Court Judge Lobree needed to win with the voters. She was hoping, of course, to draw no opposition, and earn a full six year term on the County bench.
No such luck. With a name like Fleur Lobree, she was easy pickin’. Attorney Michele Alvarez Barakat filed against "Incumbent" Judge Lobree and proceeded to trounce her on election day. And we are not just talking trounce. We are talking Jaguars v Dolphins playoff game trounce; (62-7 if my memory serves me correctly). Lobree lost in the most lobsided judicial election (involving an Incumbent that lost) in Miami-Dade County history. The final score: Barakat 71% and Lobree 29%.
The story gets better. The Lobree v. Barakat contest was playing out during the summer election season of 2012. At the same time, there came an open seat on the Circuit Court bench. Lobree is no dummy, and realizing she was in the midst of a hotly contested election to retain her seat, she applied for the open Circuit Court seat.
Another interview with the JNC, and they still loved her. That’s because her name was again chosen and sent to Governor Scott. By the time Scott conducted the interviews of the six finalists, Lobree had already lost the August 2012 election to Barakat. She was scheduled to hand over her gavel on January 2, 2013. Amazingly, Scott again chose Lobree and this time Lobree was to become a Circuit Court Judge. So, in an amazing twist of events, the voters voted her out of a County Court seat whilst at the same time the Governor promoted her to a Circuit Court seat.
So, with her new Circuit Court gavel, she was back in business by March of 2013, after taking an unpaid 60 day vacation. This time, everyone warned Lobree. With that name, she needed to start campaigning early and she needed to start raising money early. Whatever she did, it didn’t work. Since getting reappointed in March of 2013, in a period of one year, she raised only $17,500 from 86 contributors. She did pluck down $100,000 of her own money in November/December of 2013.
Meanwhile, attorney Mavel Ruiz, was clearly playing cat and mouse. Ruiz filed for Circuit Court in Group 27, in September of 2013. In October of 2013, Ruiz jumped out of Group 27 and into Group 58. Ruiz jumped ship again, and on April 18, she switched to Group 70. Finally, at 10:52 AM this morning, she made her final decision. It was the one that Fleur Lobree did not want to hear.
We are not criticizing Ms. Ruiz for what she did. That is part of the strategy of winning elections. No candidate goes into a contested election wanting to lose. Ruiz followed the rules and did what she felt like she needed to do, in order to maximize her chances of winning. But, this is what you get, when you have contested elections instead of an appointment system.
Now it is left to the voters to decide between someone named Fleur Lobree vs. someone named Mavel Ruiz.
Attorney Marianne Salazar has withdrawn from the Group 46 race. As for now, Judge Zabel is safe, and one hour from now, she likely will earn another six year term.
JUDICIAL ELECTIONS 2014
The clock is ticking and soon we will know who are the lucky Incumbents. Lucky that they will not be forced to attend dozens of late afternoon and early evening fundraisers and give the same speech over and over again. Lucky that they do not have to spend their entire summer trudging from Florida City north to Aventura; and from Miami Beach west to Sweetwater, and all the rest of this very cavernous Miami-Dade County.
At NOON today, as many as 32 Circuit and 7 County Court Judges will thank their lucky stars knowing that they are employed for yet another six year term.
Here is where we are as of close of business Thursday:
Judge Leon Firtel is retiring. TWO candidates have Qualified. They include:
*24 years Florida Bar; criminal defense practice
*22 years FB; criminal defense practice; ran unsuccessfully in the past for Judge; 2006 lost to Karen Mills Francis in a County Court race; 2008 lost in a run-off to Yvonne Colodny in a three way race for a seat on the Circuit Court; (Pat Kopco was eliminated in the primary)
Incumbent Judge Rodney Smith has drawn ONE opponent.
Judge Rodney Smith
*Judge Smith has been a member of The Florida Bar for 14 years. He was appointed to the Circuit Court by Governor Rick Scott, to an open seat, in July of 2012. Before that, he was appointed to the County Court by Governor Crist in 2008. He ran unopposed in 2010 to retain that County Court seat. In 2012, the Scott elevated him to Circuit Court. This will be his first election at the Circuit level. Smith previously served as an ASA, and an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Miami Beach before his appointment to the County Court, and then Circuit Court.
*13 years FB; he is an Associate at the law firm of Panter, Panter, and San Pedro. There, he is a trial and appellate attorney whose practice primarily focuses on first party insurance litigation. He specializes in representing healthcare providers and insureds who have had claims denied by various insurance carriers.
Judge Ronald Dresnick is retiring. THREE candidates have Qualified. They include:
*18 years FB; marital and family practice
*26 years FB; criminal defense practice; ran unsuccessfully for State Attorney in the past. 2000 lost to KF Rundle; 2004 lost to KF Rundle after defeating Leslie Rothenberg in the Republican primary; Gary Rosenberg also lost in the general election as he ran as an IND.
*Mr. Perkins has been a member of The Florida Bar for 6 years. He graduated from Drexel with a degree in International Area Studies and while there interned for a US Senator and performed research for a US Representative. He went to law school at Boston University and while there acted as a student attorney representing indigent clients in immigration proceedings. He currently works for the law firm of Garbett, Stiphany, Allen and Roza, practicing in the area of complex commercial litigation, with an emphasis on representing small and large businesses, banks and financial institutions, and governmental entities, including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. We reached out to Mr. Perkins back in January, (as you may recall) and asked him why he was running for Judge. To read his unedited response, please go to the Tuesday, January 21, 2014 Blog Post to read Mr. Perkins open letter to our readers on why he feels he is more than qualified to run for Judge.
Incumbent Judge Sarah Zabel has drawn ONE opponent.
Judge Sarah Zabel:
*Judge Zabel has been a member of The Florida Bar for nearly 21 years and she has been on the bench since 2003. She was first elected in the 2002 Election cycle. She entered a four way race against Alex Akpodiete, Xavier Cortada, and Raul Ordonez. She beat Ordonez in a run-off. She was re-elected without opposition in 2008.
Marianne Salazar (Has not yet paid her Qualifying Fee)
*Ms. Salazar has been a member of The Florida Bar for nearly 17 years. She lists her office in Palmetto Bay, but the address appears to be her home address as well. She lists her areas of practice as: Business, Child and Family, Civil Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Construction, Contracts, Corporate, Family, Finance and Investments, Health Administration. As pointed out by several of our loyal readers, she is very active in the Christian Family Coalition of Florida.
Judge Marc "SHU" Schumacher is retiring. TWO candidates have Qualified. They include:
*13 years FB; criminal defense and immigration practice
*25 years FB; Mediator; Councilman in Coconut Grove; Public Health Trust Member; In House Counsel to transportation companies; insurance defense; corporate and real estate
Judge Sandy Karlan is retiring. THREE candidates have Qualified. They include:
*Ms. Diaz had previously filed to run in County Court against Incumbent Judge William Altfield. On 4/17/14 she filed papers to run in this Circuit Court seat. Ms. Diaz has been a member of The Florida Bar for 11 years. Prior to working for the City of Miami City Attorney’s Office, she was in private practice with two law firms where she specialized in commercial and real estate litigation. Ms. Diaz joined the Office of the City Attorney in March 2007. Presently, she practices in the Transactional Division where she handles complex commercial transactions for the City, including construction and development, public-private partnerships and other general business matters. She also serves as counsel to various City boards. We have twice reached out to Ms. Diaz and asked her several questions about her qualifications. We told her that her response would be posted, unedited. We have not had the courtesy of a reply email.
Renier Diaz de la Portilla
*6 years FB; Miami-Dade School Board 8 years; Florida House Legislator 2 years, 2000-2002; (ran again in 2012 and lost); Mediator;
*17 years FB; criminal defense practice
Incumbent Judge Jacqueline Schwartz has TWO opponents.
Judge Jacqueline Schwartz
*Judge Schwartz has been a member of The Florida Bar for 22 years. In 2002, after ten years of practicing law, she ran against Eric Hendon and barely won beating him by less than 5,900 votes of the more than 237,000 cast. She was re-elected without opposition in 2008.
*Ms. Dooley has been a member of The Florida Bar for 16 years and handles criminal defense and family matters.
*Mr. Bocanegra has been a member of The Florida Bar for 6 years. After a career in law enforcement with the MDPD, he became an attorney in 2008. He quickly closed his law practice. He then became the Town Manager of Miami Lakes. And, last year he applied to become the Village Manager in North Bay Village. Now he wants to be your County Court Judge.
Incumbent Judge Nuria Saenz has ONE opponent.
Judge Nuria Saenz
*Judge Saenz has been a member of The Florida Bar for almost 17 years. For at least the past eight (of those 17) years she has been on the bench. She was elected, unopposed in 2008. We are checking our records and believe she was appointed to an open seat by the Governor in 2006.
*Ms. Ferrer has been a member of The Florida Bar for 6 years. She currently works for the Law Firm of Neil Gonzalez. She handles PIP cases, PI cases, and real estate matters.
CAPTAIN OUT .........