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Thursday, May 10, 2018
JUDICIAL ELECTIONS 2018: NORTH OF THE BORDER ..... PART TWO
THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
JUDICIAL ELECTIONS 2018:
NORTH OF THE BORDER ..... PART TWO
Attorney Jason Rosner is running for Judge. Rosner has been a member of The Florida Bar since 2004 and he can be located on the Bar's web site under the name Jason Allen Rosner.
But, a review of the same web site finds that there is no licensed attorney in the State of Florida with the name Jason Allen-Rosner. Despite that glaring fact, Allen-Rosner has qualified to run in Broward’s Circuit Court Group 38 race for an open seat. Allen-Rosner filed to run against candidates Melissa Donoho, Linda Leali, and Stephanie Moon. By filing under the name Allen-Rosner, (adding a hyphen between his Middle name and his Last name), instead of using his real last name Rosner, Jason goes from last to first on the ballot in Group 38.
Jason Rosner has a law practice in Hollywood, Florida handling mostly criminal defense and family law cases. He has a web site (that can be found here) and lists his law practice under the name Jason A. Rosner.
Jason Rosner was married in 2005 in Miami-Dade County and he filed a marriage license with the name Jason Allen (middle name) Rosner.
His LinkedIn page uses the name Jason Rosner. His AVVO pages, Superlawyers page, Findlaw page, and so on, all use the last name of Rosner. Not a one lists the name Allen-Rosner. It appears that the hyphenated name was invented for the first time on the qualifying documents filed with the Department of State in Tallahassee last Friday.
In fact, most of the documents Rosner filed with the Department of Elections actually do NOT even use the hyphenated name. On January 19, 2018, Rosner files his first set of papers with the Division of Elections. His Statement of Candidate lists Jason Allen Rosner as a "candidate for Circuit Court Judge". The filing includes a letter written on office stationery with a letterhead that reads Law Office of Jason A. Rosner, P.A. Rosner also filed the Statement of Candidate for Judicial Race and the Appointment of Campaign Treasurer, both indicating that the name of the candidate is Jason Allen Rosner. The State sent Rosner four letters over the next four months, all addressed to Jason Allen Rosner. On May 4, the day he qualified, he filed his Public Financial Disclosure and to prove who he was for the Notary, he used his Florida Driver’s License issued in the name of, you guessed it, Jason Allen Rosner (no hyphen). Not until he filed his Candidate Oath did he finally use the name Jason Allen-Rosner.
Even more amazing, Rosner first decided to run for Judge in the 2016 Election cycle. Rosner filed in Group 9 on February 9, 2015, using the name Jason Allen Rosner (no hyphen). He went on to file seven documents with the Division of Elections using the last name of Rosner. Not once did he use the name Allen-Rosner. He ultimately withdrew from the race without qualifying on April 18, 2016.
By all accounts, Rosner has an excellent reputation and he is a well respected attorney in both criminal court and family court. Nobody doubts that he is more than qualified to sit as a Judge. He was an Assistant Public Defender for two years and he is currently a Civil Traffic Hearing Officer in Broward County and has been for the past six years.
But running for Judge means that one has read and is familiar with the Code of Judicial Conduct. Canon One of the Code discusses INTEGRITY and states that "An ..... honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. A judge should participate in establishing, maintaining, and enforcing high standards of conduct, and shall personally observe those standards so that the integrity ..... of the judiciary may be preserved."
INTEGRITY, for those of you keeping score at home, is defined as: "the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles".
WHAT IS THE LAW???
We spoke with Jesse Dyer, an attorney in the General Counsel's office with the Division of Elections, Florida Department of State, and here is what he told us about the issue of what name they permit to appear on a ballot:
First, there are no Florida Statutes or Florida Administrative Codes that directly address this issue.
Second, there is an Advisory Opinion issued by the Division of Elections, authored 32 years ago, AO Number 86-06 (that can be found here) that primarily addresses "nicknames" appearing on the ballot.
The AO reads, in pertinent part:
" ..... Under common law principles, not abrogated by Florida law, a name consists of one Christian or given name and one surname, patronymic or family name; therefore, the name printed on the ballot ordinarily should be the Christian or given name and surname"..... "However, it has been determined that any name by which a candidate is known is sufficient on a ballot, and a person is legally permitted to have printed on the ballot the name which the candidate has adopted and under which he or she transacts private and official business, 29 C.J.S. Elections §161."
The Advisory Opinion goes on to state that:
"Election officials, however, may be justified in refusing to print on the ballot a candidate's nickname when it is not shown that the nickname ever was used by the candidate as part of his legal name, and such officials may be equally justified in refusing to print on the ballot a candidate's choice of a name which has not been adopted by him or her and under which the candidate has not transacted private and official business. See C.J.S. Elections §161."
Dyer told us that, when a candidate wants to use a "nickname", the Department requires that the Candidate complete an Affidavit swearing that they have used that name and are generally known in personal and/or work circles by that nickname. But, he went on to say that the staff that accepts the paperwork are ministerial officers and they generally accept the paperwork at face value. The candidate must complete the Candidate Oath Form and on that Form it actually says: "print name above as you wish it to appear on the ballot".
We located one case that directly addressed the issue, Planas v. Planas , 937 So.2d 745 (Fla. 3d DCA, 2006), on the use of a nickname:
"We hold that, as a matter of law, by designating a name, “J.P.” Planas, which “ha[d] not been adopted by him . . . and under which [he] ha[d] not transacted private and official business,” Division of Elections Opinion 86-06 (May 1, 1986)(citing C.J.S. Elections § 161 (now 29 C.J.S. Elections § 273 (2005))), the appellant did not “act in [the] good faith and . . . honest purpose,” 26 Am. Jur. 2d Elections § 293, at 109 (2004), required of all candidates".
For additional guidance, we read the SUPERVISOR’S HANDBOOK ON CANDIDATE QUALIFYING that can be found here. In lockstep with what Dyer told us, the Handbook advised that: "A qualifying officer’s duties are ministerial in nature. (Section 99.061(7)(c), F.S.)". "... any question as to the truth or accuracy of matters stated in a candidate’s qualifying papers becomes a judicial question if and when an appropriate challenge is made in the courts. (State ex rel Shevin v. Stone, 279 So.2d 17 (Fla.1972))."
Digging deeper into the Handbook though, one come's to Chapter 5, page 13: Q: "May a candidate use a nickname on the ballot?"
A: "A nickname may be printed along with one’s legal name if the candidate is generally known by that name or the name is used as part of his or her legal name. (See Appendices G and H - DE Opinions 86-06 and 09-05.)"
And Appendix H (DE 09-05), found on page 48, says, in response to a question from a City Clerk official, that asked: “What level of scrutiny must a filing officer apply to ascertain whether a prospective candidate legitimately has a nickname that is eligible for placing on the ballot?”, the Director of the Division of Elections answered the question in part as follows: .... “the short answer is that a filing officer may require a candidate to make a satisfactory showing that the candidate has been generally known by the nickname or the candidate has used the nickname as part of the candidate’s legal name”.
In closing, Dyer, the Division of Elections attorney, stated if another candidate, or a registered voter in that County, feels like a violation of the election qualifying law is being committed, they would have to file an Injunction, and litigate the case in Court.
So, there you have it. Maybe it’s time for a change in the law. Or maybe, just maybe, we should expect just a bit more integrity from some of our judicial candidates.
CAPTAIN OUT .......