JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG
WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM. Winner of the prestigious Cushing Left Anterior Descending Artery Award.
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
JUDICIAL ELECTIONS 2020 ..... THREE NEW JUDGES .....
THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
MAJOR, MAJOR, BIG TIME BREAKING NEWS .....
Incumbent Judge Dava Tunis has drawn an opponent.
Candidate Rosy Aponte, who filed and qualified to run against Incumbent Judge Gordon Murray in Group 38 of the County Court has just switched and filed to run against Judge Tunis in Circuit Court Group 75.
Aponte has previously been unsuccessful in seeking a seat on the bench:
- 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 compared to Rodrgiuez Fonts (34%) and Breece (40%) in the Primary.
Judge Tunis was first appointed by Governor Bush in 2005. She ran unopposed in 2008 and again ran unopposed in 2014. She has never faced an opponent. UNTIL NOW.
Mr. Vereen has now been qualified by the Department of Elections.
Ms. Martinez-Scanziani has also been qualified by the Dept. of Elections.
Ms. Delancey is still without an opponent.
Mr. Spector has not yet qualified to run against Judge Bandin.
UPDATE ON CANDIDATE ROD VEREEN:
He has submitted a NEW check at 11:41 AM today. This check has written at the top left:
CAMPAIGN TO ELECT
This check appears to be signed by his Campaign Treasurer. So, by all accounts, it appears that Mr. Vereen has resolved any issues with his qualifying check.
DOES ROD VEREEN HAVE SOME QUALIFYING ISSUES? On it's face he appears to have two problems. His check may not have been written from a "campaign account". Also, his check was signed by Mr. Vereen - which according to the Election Rules (see below), he was not permitted to do. (He is not his own campaign treasurer). Story developing .....
Qualifying Fee The qualifying fee must be: • Paid by a properly executed check drawn on the campaign account. (A personal check, cashier’s check, money order, or cash is not acceptable); • Made payable to the Florida Department of State, Florida Secretary of State, or Florida Division of Elections; and • In an amount not less than the fee required. The check must be signed by the campaign treasurer or deputy treasurer. A check signed by a candidate who has not been designated as the treasurer or deputy treasurer is not acceptable.
Shaun Spector has just filed in Group 24 of the County Court against Incumbent Judge Christine Bandin. Spector has been an attorney for nine years and runs his own law firm in Coral Gables where he primarily practices commercial litigation. Judge Bandin was appointed to the bench by Gov. Scott in October of 2018. At the time she was a partner with Shutts & Bowen. She has been an attorney for 13 years. Ms. Bandin has only raised $12,780 from 45 contributors and loaned her campaign $500. She does have a net worth of $540,979.
Denise Martinez-Scanziani has just filed in Group 65 against Incumbent Judge Thomas Rebull. She has a Net Worth of $1,423,019 and had income last year of $323,657. Judge Rebull was first appointed to the bench by Gov. Rick Scott in 2011. He ran unopposed in 2014. Ms. Martinez-Scanziani first ran in 2008 against Incumbent Circuit Judge Bernard Shapiro losing 59% - 41%. She next ran in 2016 in retiring Judge Gill Freeman's Group against three opponents. The primary results were no better for her: Mark Blumstein (29%); Luis Perez-Medina (25%); Renee Gordon (24%); and Ms. Martinez-Scanziani (23%).
Roderick D. Vereen has just filed in Group 57 to run against Carmen Cabarga. He has a Net Worth of $2,189,086 and income of $650,000 last year. Vereen is no stranger to campaigns. He ran for Congress in 2010 as a Independent against Fredricka Wilson and lost 86% to 14%. He then ran as a Democrat in 2012 for State Attorney against Katherine Fernandez Rundle, losing 60% - 40%.
BREAKING NEWS #1 .......
Tahya Fuenmayor has decided that she will no longer be a candidate for any judgeship in 2020.
BREATHE - that’s the nine incumbent County Court judges all exhaling a sigh of relief.
Ms Fuenmayor, who had filed in County Court Group 35, and who was on the short end of the move by Governor DeSantis when the Governor appointed Judge Lody Jean to the Circuit Court last Friday, spoke with us earlier today. She was congratulatory towards Judge Jean. But she was disappointed that the Governor chose to steal the opportunity away from the voters of Miami-Dade County to name the Group 35 replacement. Remember, Gov DeSantis could just as easily have chosen Judge Jean on Monday, and then let the voters choose her replacement through an election.
We have it on good authority that there will be some last minute surprises in both County and Circuit Court. That means the nine incumbents in County Court will need to continue to hold their collective breaths for another three days. In Circuit Court, there are still two open seats with only one candidate each:
In Group 37, with Judge Celeste Muir retiring, Michelle Delancy is still unopposed.
In Group 57, with Judge Bernard Shapiro retiring, Carmen Cabarga is also still unopposed.
BREAKING NEWS #2 .......
YOUR THREE NEWEST COUNTY COURT JUDGES ARE:
CARLOS GAMEZ. Judge Gamez has been an attorney for 11 years. He is currently employed as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Miami. He was first hired out of law school by Perez & Rodriguez. He takes over for Judge Ramiro Areces who was recently elevated to the Circuit Court.
SCOTT JANOWITZ. Judge Janowitz has been an attorney for 14 years. He was an ASA in Broward County for three years. He is now an associate with Geyer, Fuxa, Tyler, PLLC. He fills the vacancy created when Judge Christina DiRaimondo was recently elevated to the Circuit Court.
JEFFREY KOLOKOFF. Judge Kolokoff has been an attorney for 13 years. He was an ASA in Miami-Dade for six years. He is currently an associate with Beighley, Myrick, Udell and Lynne. He replaces Judge Robert Watson who was elevated to the Circuit Court recently.
Two closing points on these three recent appointments.
First, it is even more transpicuous what Governor DeSantis pulled with the Judge Lody Jean appointment (and the one for Judge Zachary James). It took him 57 days (he has a maximum of 60) to name these three new County Court Judges from the date the nominees were placed on his desk. By contrast, he named James after 14 days and Jean after 28 days - the two shortest turnarounds in Miami-Dade County history for Gov DeSantis.
Second, it bears repeating what I wrote about last Friday. The Governor has once again made it crystal clear of his insouciance toward anyone that has the name Assistant Public Defender on their resume. The count is now 62 judges appointed by DeSantis; 43 of them are former ASAs/AUSAs/AAGs and only one was appointed out of the P.D. office: Judge Ayana Harris. This time the Governor had 18 names on his desk for these three open seats, including APDs Kevin Hellman and Gale Lewis. They never had a chance.
We will update these pages regularly with any breaking election news.
CAPTAIN OUT .......