Figuring out who to vote for downballot is a lot of work. The judicial part is especially hard for voters — even for a lawyer like me who isn’t very plugged into the local scene.
My rule of thumb is to vote to re-elect incumbent Judges unless there is a strong reason not to. That bar is amply met in one race (vote FOR Diana Gonzales and against Pando); otherwise I’m voting for the incumbents. The more difficult cases are the open seats.
For Circuit Judge, that would be Groups 15, 47 & 49
In Group 15 I prefer Robert Coppel, a former PD with extensive trial experience; the other candidate sounds bad to me, not least for the endorsement by the Christian Family Coalition.
In Group 47, Alex Labora (MBA Wharton ’83; JD U.M. ’82) has a wide range of experience (he is also the husband of sitting Drug Court Judge Deborah White-Labora); Maria de Jesus Santovenia (JD U.Penn ’88) has been working as an assistant city attorney in Miami and North Miami Beach. The Herald prefers Santovenia. According to the Herald’s questionnaire she spent much more of her own money on the campaign, and also has more civic endorsements. They both seem like serious candidates. She’ll likely win, and I’m OK with that.
In Group 49 pits ex-Miami City Commissioner Victor De Yurre (JD St. Mary’s University School of Law [Texas] ; LL.M Tax, UM) against Teresa Mary Pooler (JD UM). Both are experienced lawyers; De Yurre has political and extensive civil law experience; Pooler has a criminal law background. On the other hand, De Yurre’s political career had extensive smoke (but no fire) when it came to corruption – he was investigated over and over … but always exonerated. The Herald prefers Pooler; the New Times points to De Yurre’s ownership of a troubled business. How you vote on this one probably depends on how you feel about De Yurre (or even if you remember him!). Pooler is not endorsed by the Christian Family Coalition, De Yurre is…so I guess it’s Pooler.
Patricia Marino-Pedraza (incumbent). The CFC endorsed Marino-Pedraza, but I’m leaning to vote for her anyway. That said, I wasn’t impressed by Marino-Pedraza’s husband’s attempt to get her opponent, knocked off the ballot. And she has a relatively high (20%) of lawyers rating her unqualified.
The CFC endorsed Diana Gonzales. (So did the Herald.) Vote for her anyway. Pando should go.
Fleur Jeannine Lobree is the incumbent, and well-regarded.
Andrea Wolfson is the incumbent. The CFC endorsed Wolfson, as did the Herald. Fellow lawyers rate her highly. Easy choice.
Ivonne Cuesta (JD Nova ’01) vs. Jacci Suzan Seskin (UM ’02). The Herald endorsed Cuesta over Seskin, a nurse turned PD, citing Cuesta’s exprience of 75 trials. IMHO ten years since law school is on the light side for a judge, although we often settle for even less around here. On the other hand, Cuesta has been nominated for a judgeship four times by the Judicial Nominating Commission, which counts for something. And she has a higher rating from fellow lawyers. So Cuesta.
Tanya Brinkley (JD UM ’95) vs. Enrique Yabor (JD “Ole Miss” ’99) (CFC endorsed). Herald-endorsed Brinkley has a wider experience, and impressive endorsements. She’s been nominated by the Judicial Nominating Commission nine times (is that a record?) And she isn’t Yabor. No contest.
Teretha Lundy Thomas (incumbent) (and the challenger is bad).
Dan Cohen (incumbent)
My Downballot Palmcard
(clip and save!)
29 State Attorney: KF Rundle
79 David C. Miller (incumbent)
81 Robert Coppel
83-84 Pick ’em (Labora = 83; Santovenia =84)
88 Marino-Pedraza (incumbent) (?)
89 Gonzales (!)
92 Lobree (incumbent)
95 Wolfson (incumbent)
103 Cohn (incumbent)