Category Archives: 2020 Election

The Most Important Election on the Aug 18 Miami-Dade Ballot

It’s not the Mayor’s race — it’s the State Attorney’s race.  And I think it’s essential to vote for change. Vote Melba Pearson. And here’s a reminder as to why:

I also have some other recommendations in my Miami-Dade Ballot Guide: Summary of Recommendations – Aug 18, 2020.

Note — If you are voting by mail, I’m told it would be a good idea to get that ballot in the mail no later than tomorrow due to the issues the Postal Service is having.

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Miami-Herald Endorsements in Local Judicial Races

The Herald is out with its endorsements in the local judicial races, and they sound almost exactly like mine, sometimes with the same reasoning.

The only interesting thing to me is that they pick Roderick Vereen over Carmen Cabarga in Group 57:

It’s that breadth of state and federal experience that makes him [Vereen] the more-solid candidate in this race. He ran for Congress in 2010 and for Miami-Dade State Attorney in 2012.

In his candidate interview, he spoke with a deeper knowledge of how judges can be unfair to defendants — in ways he would not. He says that he appreciates judges who ask lawyers from both the State Attorney and Public Defender offices to “get together before court and decide what will move forward, what will not, what’s continued. That way, Vereen says, they don’t have to give the judge a long explanation of their positions. It helps move things along, Vereen said. Otherwise, he said, “Families are waiting all day.”

We find him the more-seasoned candidate in this race.

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Watch Them Run Away

WashPost columnist Jennifer Rubin offers this good list of questions that people should be asking GOP Senators running for re-election:

  • Are you supporting the lawsuit to take away all Obamacare protections for people with preexisting conditions? If not, what have you done about it?
  • Couldn’t we have avoided Trump’s bungling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 150,000 people in the United States, if you voted to impeach him?
  • Isn’t refusal to confront Russia on bounties for killing U.S. troops a betrayal of our men and women serving overseas? If you had removed the president for betraying our national security regarding Ukraine, he wouldn’t be repeating that pattern now, would he? Do you regret your vote?
  • You voted for a $2 trillion tax cut on the promise it would pay for itself. It didn’t come close. Should we reverse it? How can you then oppose spending a similar amount on support for unemployed Americans, state and local governments, and voting by mail?
  • Will you denounce attempts to undermine mail-in voting? Will you pledge to recognize the results of the election and rebut efforts to delegitimize it?
  • Has the administration “succeeded” in fighting the coronavirus? Why haven’t you insisted on a national testing and tracing program?
  • Was it appropriate to send without the permission of the governor unidentified federal forces to gas and attack protesters in Portland, Ore.? What did you do about it?
  • Why did you vote to confirm Cabinet officials such as Scott Pruitt for the Environmental Protection Agency (only Collins voted against him), Tom Price for the Department of Health and Human Services, Ryan Zinke for the Interior Department and Alexander Acosta for the Labor Department — all of whom left office under the cloud of ethics violations (including Acosta, for his participation in Jeffrey Epstein’s plea deal)?
  • Is the economy in better or worse shape in January 2015, when your term began?
  • When have you condemned Trump’s racist rhetoric?
  • Have we “won” the trade war against China? If not, why haven’t you reclaimed Congress’s power over tariffs?
  • What reason do voters have to believe you would stand up to Trump if he is reelected?

Pretty good list. I doubt very many of the GOP Senate candidates would sit still for the whole list, much less answer any of them. More likely they’d run away.

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Miami-Dade Ballot Guide: Summary of Recommendations – Aug 18, 2020

State Attorney, 11th Circuit: Melba Peterson (line 24)
State Rep District 114 (Dem Primary): Jean-Pierre “JP” Bado (line 60)
Circuit Judge, Group 55: Olanike “Nike” Adebayo (line 310)
Circuit Judge, Group 57: No recommendation (yet?)
Circuit Judge, Group 65: Thomas J. Rebull (line 315)
Circuit Judge, Group 67: Mavel Ruiz (line 317)
Circuit Judge, Group 75: Dava J. Tunis (line 319)
County Judge, Group 9: Joseph J. Mansfield (line 320)
County Judge, Group 24: Christine Bandin (line 322)
County Commission, District 7: Cindy Lerner (line 343)
Miami-Dade County Mayor: Daniella Levine Cava (line 362)
Property Appraiser: Marisol Zenteno (line 367)

All contests are open to all voters except the State Rep primary.

See the reasons for these recommendations in my Miami-Dade Primary Day Ballot Recommendations 2020, Part I and Miami-Dade Primary Day Ballot Recommendations 2020, Part II (Judges).

(This will remained pinned to the front of the blog until Aug 19th.)

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Miami-Dade Primary Day Ballot Recommendations 2020, Part II (Judges)

This is Part II of my 2020 Primary Election Recommendations. Don’t miss Part I (the non-judicial elections).


Unlike most law professors I know, I support the idea of judicial elections at the state level as a reasonable democratic check on what I believe should be the expansive power of judges to interpret the state and federal constitutions.

As I’ve often said before, if it were up to me, I’d have the executive branch pick judges with legislative confirmation, followed by a California-style retention election every few years in which there would be an up or down vote on the incumbent. If the vote was down, the executive would pick a new judge. It seems to me that the right question is “has this judge done a good (enough) job” — something voters might be able to figure out — rather than asking voters to try to guess from electoral statements which of two or more candidates might be the best judge.

Florida’s system uses appointment plus retention elections for Supreme Court Justices and District Court of Appeal Judges, but not for trial courts. The Governor can appoint judges to fill vacancies between elections, but otherwise those jobs are straight up elected, so this election pits one or more challengers against the incumbent unless, lacking opposition, the incumbent wins reelection automatically; many trial judges were indeed unopposed this year. There are also open seats when the incumbent retires.

My recommendations are based on:

  • My personal view that I will vote for an incumbent judge unless there’s reason to believe he/she is doing a bad job.
  • After supporting incumbents, my other rule of thumb in sizing up candidates before even getting to the details of biography and practice experience is that in all but the rarest cases of other important life experience we ought to require at least ten years of legal experience from our lawyers before even considering them as judges. Fifteen years is better. I will very rarely support a judicial candidate fewer than ten years out of law school. It just isn’t long enough to get the experience and practical wisdom it takes to be a judge.
  • I look to see if the candidate filed a voluntary self-disclosure form with the state. I prefer candidates who take the trouble to fill out the form and give thoughtful replies. Normally I also look hard at the Dade County Bar Association Poll in which lawyers rate the sitting judges’ and the candidates’ qualifications. The response rate is not that great on this poll, but I do think that if there’s a large majority one way or the other that tells me something. Unfortunately, this year the poll is remarkably unhelpful: It tells me Judge Thomas Rebull is considered one of the better judges, which I guess is good to know especially as some anonymous commentators on another blog seem to have it in for him, and it tells me a lot of lawyers think challenger Rosy Aponte is unqualified, but I knew that without looking at a poll. Other than that it is not very informative.
  • This year, The Daily Business Review (DBR) published a useful voters’ guide to judicial elections.
  • If all else fails, I look at the Miami Herald’s view. (But not this year, the Herald hasn’t done its endorsements yet.) [Update 8/6/20: The Herald’s endorsements are out now.]
  • And oh yes, I read local blogs and listen to gossip too. Except this year, gossip is scarce, since I’m not leaving the house….

This will be a long blog post because there are five Circuit Court elections and two County Court elections in Miami-Dade this year. Both are trial courts, but the County Courts have a more limited jurisdiction, comprising Misdemeanors, small claims up to $5,000, civil disputes up to $15,000, and traffic court. Circuit Courts have broader jurisdiction.  They also hear some appeals from County Courts, while other appeals go straight to the DCA’s, the District Courts of Appeal.

All registered voters in Miami-Dade County get to vote on these judges, regardless of party affiliation. Here are my suggestions how to vote in the August 18, 2020 judicial elections:

Continue reading

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The Perennial Question

Are You Better OFF? By Meidas Touch

And, just out — this too:

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