BY BUDDY NEVINS
Broward Circuit Judge Lynn Rosenthal says that after three decades as a lawyer, she has begun learning a new skill – politics.
Rosenthal was appointed in July 2012 by Gov. Rick Scott to fill an open seat. Now she has begun her 2014 campaign.
Her resume is largely this: A federal prosecutor from 1985 to 2012.
Not exactly the best training for the rough-and-tumble world of Broward politics.
Cloistered in all-but lifetime jobs, federal prosecutors are notorious for being indifferent to public sentiment. To put it bluntly, federal prosecutors don’t give a damn what people think because they are accountable only to the U. S. Justice Department…and hardly accountable to that agency since almost no one is ever fired.
So Rosenthal has had to learn a new skill set.
She is learning to talk to average folks. She is listening to their views. And she is asking them for their votes.
Campaigning “is so different from what I did before. (But) it has been the most wonderful experience. I feel blessed by the opportunity to meet so many different people,” says Rosenthal, 56, of Weston.
Lynn Rosenthal being sworn-in, 2012
Her role as a judge has also been an education.
Prosecutors’ job is to whittle away the rights of defendants to gain a conviction. Defense attorneys attempt to defend and expand a defendant’s rights.
A judge is supposed to be a neutral referee between the two sides, courthouse sources complain.
“Its an education for me,” she says. “I ask people to give me criticism so I can be a better judge.”
But three lawyers told Browardbeat.com that Rosenthal hasn’t learned the difference from being a prosecutor and judge, yet. They would love to find a candidate to run against Rosenthal, who is yet unopposed.
“She sits on the bench like she is a still a prosecutor. Defendants get less than a fair shake,” one lawyer involved in judicial races says.
No lawyer has had the guts to challenge her. After talking to her, I understand why.
She’s a great candidate – well-spoken and smart. She says the right things about a judge being fair and impartial.
Another reason challengers are shying away from her is her name – Rosenthal. Some still mistakenly believe that a Jewish-sounding name means certain victory for a judicial candidate.
It’s not true. Ask judicial candidates Julie Shapiro-Harris, Rhoda Sokoloff, Richard Sachs, Ilene Lieberman and Melanie Golden, whose names couldn’t overcome other shortcomings in last year’s election.
Still, enough lawyers believe the old myth that none have taken her on yet.
Or as one political consultant, who is not involved in her campaign, says:
“Bottom line is the local criminal defense lawyers have no clue how to gear up a campaign… and she has a great ballot name. I think she is a tough beat, she is attractive, will have money, good talker and an incumbent.”
So for now, Rosenthal is safe. She shouldn’t get comfortable. Judicial candidates have a history of bouncing from one race to another .
And it’s a long time until the close of filing next year.