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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

JUDICIAL ELECTIONS 2020 ..... COUNTY COURT .....


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

QUALIFYING WEEK - MASKED EDITION: PART TWO - COUNTY COURT .....

UPDATES BELOW:

BUT FIRST:
Following up on my Friday Blog Post:  Elections Have Consequences: Two New Circuit Court Judges, there were more than a few Comments praising Gov DeSantis’ appointment of Judge Lody Jean. Judge Jean may in fact have been more than qualified to earn the appointment. But Governor DeSantis played the game with loaded dice. First, DeSantis has never named a Circuit Court Judge in Miami-Dade County in less than 30 days before these past two appointments. Now, Judge Zachary James gets named only 14 days after the 12 nominees names arrive on DeSantis’ desk. And 14 days later, DeSantis chooses Jean. Second, DeSantis was very shrewed in making sure he made those appointments before Monday, April 20, 2020. With Judge Jean’s appointment taking place last Friday, her Group 35 seat is now an open seat with her successor to be named by the Governor, instead of by the voters. Same for Judge James' Group 28 seat in County Court. But, Governor DeSantis’ office had to work really fast to pull this off. Judge Jean’s qualifying papers had to be rushed to her by the Department of State. And Jean had to file these papers immediately. Lest anyone doubt that DeSantis wanted to ensure he could name the replacements for the two open seats, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit’s JNC announced yesterday that they were accepting "applications to fill the vacancies caused by the elevation of Judges Zachary James and Lody Jean" with a deadline of May 4, 2020. Now on to the Election Coverage.


Yesterday we covered the races in Circuit Court. Today we turn our focus to the County Court contests. There are three County Court Judges (UPDATE - make that two) that have drawn opposition, while 9 others are currently unopposed. One contender is back for a third try, having previously lost a Circuit Court race in 2016 and a County Court race in 2018.

COUNTY COURT:
Here is the list of nine (9) Incumbents (it was 16 at one point) who are currently unopposed:

Donald Cannava Jr.
Raul Cuervo
Stephanie Silver
Christine Bandin
Luis Perez-Medina
Betty Capote-Erben
Elijah Levitt
Natalie Moore
Victoria Ferrer

In addition, here is the list of seven (7) other Incumbent judges who were facing re-election in 2020. All seven have been recently elevated to the Circuit Court (CC) bench with their replacements to be named by Governor DeSantis instead of the voters choosing.

William Altfield (was recently appointed to CC to replace Judge Rodney Smith)
Laura Shearson Cruz (was recently appointed to CC to replace Judge Rodolfo Ruiz)
Christina DiRaimondo (was recently appointed to CC to replace Judge Diane Ward)
Ramiro Areces (was recently appointed to CC to replace Judge Renatha Francis)
Robert Watson (was recently appointed to CC to replace Judge John Thornton)
Zachary James (was just appointed to CC to replace Judge Jacqueline Scola)
Lody Jean (was just appointed to CC to replace Judge John Schlesinger)

GROUP 9:

Joseph Mansfield (Incumbent) (Q)
- he has not yet qualified and his net worth is $268,909
- he has raised $5,200 from 10 contributors and loaned his campaign $0

- his salary with the State of Florida is $151,822
Miguel "Mike" Mirabal (Q)
- he has qualified; he has a Net Worth of $1,684,634
- he has raised $0 and has loaned his campaign $30,500

- he ran for a County Court seat against Judge Milena Abreu
in 2018, losing that race by 65% to 35%.
- he runs his own law firm, Global Legal, with a salary of $95,750


GROUP 35: SEE ABOVE

As of last Friday, April 17, with the appointment of Judge Jean to the Circuit Court to replace Judge Schlesinger, this seat is now open and a replacement will be named by Gov. DeSantis.  Ms. Fuenmayor now has nine Incumbent judges to choose from as she decides which one to challenge in this year's election. Anyone want to venture a guess as to who will be the unlucky Incumbent?

Lody Jean (Incumbent)
- she has not yet qualified
- she has raised $144,075 from 432 contributors and loaned
her campaign $60,000

Tahya Fuenmayor
- she has not yet qualified
- she has raised $27,775 from 39 contributors and loaned
her campaign $35,000
- she is currently an attorney with Gonzalez & Assoc., where

she handles PIP suits


GROUP 38:

Gordon Murray Sr. (Incumbent) (Q)

- he has qualified; he has a Net Worth of $777,299
- he has raised $67,794 from 227 contributors and loaned
his campaign $25,704
- his salary from the State of Florida is $151,182; he is paid an additional $6,700 from Miami-Dade College

Rosy Aponte (Q)
- she has qualified; she has a Net Worth of $315,000; it was $186,000 in 2018, and only $46,000 in 2016
- she has raised $3,000 from 3 contributors and loaned her campaign $49,000
- she is a solo practitioner with R. Aponte & Assoc. where she paid herself $83,000. She is also a partner in the Felicetti Law Firm where she was paid an additional $120,000
- she ran for a County Court seat against Judge Kristy Nunez in 2018, losing that race by 52 % to 48%.

- she ran for a Circuit Court seat against Judge Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts and Carol Breece in 2016. Ms. Aponte failed to make the runoff as she gained only 26% of the vote in the Primary compared to Rodriguez Fonts (34%) and Breece (40%).


(Rumpole notes: Do not forget to contribute to the Go Fund Me account for Judge Richard Hersch's bailiff Orlando Duarte who passed away last week. See our post on Sunday for more details.)

CAPTAIN OUT .......
Captain4Justice@gmail.com

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for all who donated to the go fund me account for Orlando. We were seeking $15,000.00. Right now we have $16,000.00. It was nice to see so many people who are not rich (like prosecutors...) who donated. His wife will have some comfort in this. Richard Hersch cannot discuss this as judges cannot get involved in raising money but, if he could he would say, thank you, thank you, thank you.......... Mike Catalano

Anonymous said...

Ms. Fuenmayor, please please please please please run against Elijah Levitt or Christine Bandin. They have horrible demeanors on the bench. The governor doesn’t appoint “kings” and “queens” and newly appointed judges shouldn’t act like them. I’m in for $1000 to whoever runs against one of them.

Defender of Justice said...

I feel the Captain's anger on this one. On the other post regarding Judge Jean, everyone was up in arms about how great of a judge she is. That is besides the point. The point is that by going out of his way to appoint her on a Friday instead of a Monday, the Governor took power away from the electorate with respect to her REPLACEMENT. Rather than the people deciding who will replace Judge Jean in county court, the Governor will appoint someone who is ideologically pure in his view (read: Federalist Society, Republican). The Governor's appointment power exists to fill a vacancy until the next election. It does not exist to thwart the election process.

When I first started practicing, there used to be a plethora of open seats and there was a respect that generally (obviously not always) made people not run against incumbents unless they were doing something very bad. The legal community embraced this respect and often rallied around incumbents who were challenged. We no longer have ANY open seats in county court, something I've never seen before, and in light of the ideological litmus test that has pervaded judicial appointment decision making, I frankly think that respect SHOULD NOT exist anymore with respect to recent appointees. (I'm not talking about established judges who are elevated to the Circuit Court - they might have earned their stripes.).

I applaud Miguel Mirabal and Rosy Aponte for running against RECENT APPOINTEES. In their races, I will consider the virtues of each candidate and then decide how to vote without giving any incumbency "bump" to Judges Mansfield and Murray.

I also encourage Fuenmayor to consider running against one of the following RECENT APPOINTEES and encourage my colleagues and the readers of this blog not to give any incumbency "bump" in your decision making:

Raul Cuervo
Stephanie Silver
Christine Bandin
Luis Perez-Medina
Elijah Levitt
Natalie Moore

Finally, because they are established, if Fuenmayor filed against one of the following established judges, I would rally around the judge and vote for him/her unless Fuenmayor revealed that they engage in unethical conduct or gross incompetence. They have earned the incumbency "bump":

Donald Cannava Jr.
Betty Capote-Erben
Victoria Ferrer

Anonymous said...

The bottom feeders battle for pay raises by applying to be a judge.

Anonymous said...

Captain, why don't you include information regarding incumbents as well (how much they lent to campaign / raised, net worth, etc.)

Anonymous said...

I am shocked that you would think that a politician would want to increase the number of appointments that he makes. I look at it a little bit differently. I am comfortedd by the fact that a judge of Lody Jean's qualities does not have to face a candidate who brings a number of Zs or vowels to her name, at least this year.

Anonymous said...

No one better than Judge Hanzman. He will make a great Chief Judge. All other judges should support him. Let him know you will vote for him when Judge Soto resigns as Chief.

Anonymous said...

There has been no appointment for these three County seats (vacancy caused by the elevation of Judges Areces, DiRaimondo and Watson) and I think it has been 60+ days...

Anonymous said...

10:32 That was the idea. Do you think the "electorate" does a very good job of picking judges? Which "loser-in-life_ are you supporting who now will have to scrape along with his or her less than county court salary for another two years?

Anonymous said...

I agree with both 10:32 and 10:12. Electing judges isn't a good way to get the best and brightest, but neither is choosing them through a partisan appointment process. Case in point:

-Judge Natalie Moore - admitted three bar exams after graduating from law school; substantial pay raise after becoming a judge; ideologically pure according to governor.

Joseph Mansfield - admitted three bar exams after graduation from law school; substantial pay raise after becoming a judge; ideologically pure according to governor.

We should have a non-partisan panel appointed by the bar (not the governor) who filters out quality candidates from bottom feeders, and only those candidates can then go on to seek election or appointment. Maybe instead of having the governor appoint judges, we should have the governor, senate majority leader, senate minority leader, and local bar association appoint a four-person panel to make the appointment, and each appointment decision has to be by a majority of the panel. Federalist society membership shouldn't be the deciding factor.

And 12:42, your comment is obviously directed to hispanics. What the hell, man?

Anonymous said...

Natalie Moore passed the bar the first time right out of law school. She graduated from UF law in 2006 and according to the bar website she was admitted in September 2006.

Anonymous said...

Natalie Moore passed the bar the first time out of law school. She graduate UF Law in 2006 and the bar website shows she was admitted September 2006