Three Judges Face Re-Election Opponents: Where Is The Outrage?

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

Where is all the hand wringing from legal community this time around when incumbent judges are being challenged?

Two years ago, 15 judges were challenged.

This time it’s only three – County Judges Terri-Ann Miller and Bob Diaz and Circuit Judge Dale Ross. The support from the legal community for these three is there, but it’s much quieter.

There is no public outcry. No Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, TV’s “Help Me Howard”, defending them at political clubs. No political action committees planning ads…for now.

Why?

One reason is the number of judges that faced opposition last time.  A second is the continued bad economy.

“It’s been hard to raise money in a judicial race,” said one political consultant.

A third reason is that the challenges in 2010 were spectacularly unsuccessful. The incumbents got re-elected.

A fourth reason is the judges themselves.

Terri-Ann Miller

Miller is a former Miami-Dade judge who moved to Broward in 2000 when she faced re-election defeat. She feared that the politically active Cuban community would remember the maximum fines she imposed on anti-Castro demonstrators blocking traffic.

She first challenged County Judge Bob Zack, but got thrown off the ballot because of residency problems.  In 2002, she challenged County Judge Steve DeLuca and lost.  In 2006, she ran for an open seat and won.

Miller is now paying for running against sitting judges twice. She has lukewarm support among some in the local legal community.

“A lot of us feel that she is just getting some of her own medicine,” one lawyer said.

Dale Ross

Ross was appointed judge in the 1970s and was chief judge for more than a decade.

Being chief judge he earned enemies, particularly among the most vocal members of the criminal defense Bar.

One of his biggest enemies is said to be Finkelstein, although I see no evidence of him being actively involved in the race.  Another is Bill Gelin, a criminal defense attorney who runs the courthouse website JAAblog.

Ross’ opponent is criminal defense lawyer Mickey Rocque, who by experience alone should be no push over. He knows his way around a courtroom. His resume includes being well-respected assistant public defender for 16 years before opening his own criminal defense practice.

However, Rocque can’t match Ross in experience.  Ross was on the bench for a decade when Rocque graduated law school in the late 1980s.

And Ross has a lot of powerful friends outside the courthouse and a crackerjack campaign team. He is also campaigning hard, while I hear Rocque is seldom seen.

Bob Diaz

Bob Diaz must feel like Marty McFly in “Back To The Future”.

The former assistant public defender was appointed in 1992 by Gov. Lawton Chiles. Just months later, Diaz fought off a tough election challenge.

Twenty years later, Diaz running again.

A lot is the same. He makes the same campaign stops – chamber of commerce breakfasts, judicial forums at political clubs and community groups.  He courts many of the same power brokers.

A lot has changed.

“The cost of everything has gone up,” Diaz said.

In 1992, his campaign could afford network television ads.  This year, TV is a maybe.

There were no widespread use of cell phones and calls on the road had to be made from pay phones.  He recalls the travel around Broward was easier, with less traffic.

Diaz won in 1992 with 271,832 votes. He got 62 percent against David Javits, despite the talk that he was related to former U. S. Senator Jacob Javits of New York. It was a vote total for a judicial candidate that wasn’t surpassed for 16 years, Diaz said.

Judging from reading JAAblog, Gelin doesn’t like Diaz any more than he likes Ross.  (If I’m wrong, Gelin is welcome anytime to comment here at or to write why he thinks Diaz should be replaced.)

Other than a small part of the defense Bar, I don’t see much widespread opposition to the judge.

When he ran in 1992 and won in a landslide, Diaz disproved the Broward political wisdom that a Hispanic can’t win countywide, especially against an opponent with a Jewish-sounding name. He is hoping to prove it again this year.

 

  Bob Diaz, law school students, former students and friends stuff envelopes in the current campaign

 



22 Responses to “Three Judges Face Re-Election Opponents: Where Is The Outrage?”

  1. Just Sayin' says:

    During the course of his tenure on the bench, Diaz was officially reprimanded by the JQC for ethical misconduct. And he also has a reputation as one of the laziest, least-working judges in Broward. His defeat would not be a loss to the justice system.

  2. Penny says:

    Dale Ross and Bob Diaz are known to be sarcastic and rude. I don’t know much about Miller.

  3. The Truth says:

    Sometimes you are better off with the one you know than the one you don’t. Who are these candidates running against Diaz and Ross? Are they qualified? How do we know these candidates are not “sarcastic and rude” or lazy. We know that Diaz and Ross are qualified and that is The Truth.

  4. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Electing judges is a terrible method. They can’t take positions on any issues, and it ends up being a contest without content. There has to be a better way.

    Elected officials,other attorneys that are presently practicing and other political “consultants” shouldn’t be involved.

    Attorneys and judges who are retired with clean records,law school professors from a county other than Broward, maybe a sprinkle of retired media people and citizens who have knowledge of the system may work for a committee that would make recommendations to a non-elected entity is one thought.

    I’m sure others have ideas on how to correct this situation.

    Electing judges based on ethnicity or with whom they’re connected needs to stop.

  5. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    If rudeness and sarcasm are requirements to be a Judge, then move over Clarence Thomas, here come The Genius.

  6. You Make The Call... says:

    The Players:

    Criminal defense attorney/judicial candidate Mickey Rocque

    Jeff Dwyer, Esq from the Law Offices of Bohdan Neswiacheny,

    Tripp Scott Law Firm

    Atlantic Yacht and Ship and other affiliated corporations

    Charles Biggie-Partner in Atlantic Yacht and Ship

    Rick Obey-Partner in Atlantic Yacht and Ship

    Broward County Case Numbers: CACE12006121 (Civil Case) & DVCE12001216 (Restraining Order)

    Atlantic Yacht and Ship et.al. is one of the largest yacht companies in South Florida probably has revenues in the millions of dollars. February of this year there was an alleged altercation between Partner Biggie and Partner Obey which led to Biggie filing for a Temporary Restraining Order against Partner Obey.
    On March 6, Mr. Biggie is served with a lawsuit from the Tripp Scott law firm on behalf of Obey regarding Atlantic Yacht and Ship and other affiliated corporations. The Judge assigned the case is Judge Dale Ross.
    On March 7, Mickey Rocque files a Notice of Appearance on behalf of Mr. Biggie and Tripp Scott represents Mr. Obey in the Temporary Restraining Order case. Also on March 7, there is a hearing on the Restraining Order where the Court Orders that Rick Obey may return to the property located at 850 NE 3rd Street Dania Beach, Florida upon dates and times agreed by counsel for the parties, including Jeff Dwyer, esq.

    In a separate civil suit filed by Tripp Scott, attorney Jeffrey Dwyer, Esq twice files for an extension of time to respond to the lawsuit on behalf of all Defendants in the lawsuit including Mr. Biggie.

    After Mickey Rocque files and qualifies to run against Judge Dale Ross, Rocque comes in as counsel to Mr. Biggie and co-counsel to the remaining clients represented by Jeff Dwyer, Esq. Upon entering the case, Mickey Rocque immediately files a Motion to Recuse Judge Dale Ross, which Judge Dale Ross Grants.

    Upon further review of Clerk records, Mickey Rocque, Esq in 25 years as an attorney has only been involved in 8 civil cases in all that time. Of those 8 many have been civil actions tied to his criminal practice, i.e. an appeal of DUI Admin Review Hearing or Forfeiture actions to get back items belonging to his criminal clients. Most interesting, Mr. Rocque appears to have never represented anyone is a complex civil litigation matter worth millions of dollars before now.

    Also of note, Mr. Rocque it appears has pending/active criminal cases before Judge Stacy Ross, daughter of Judge Dale Ross. Interestingly enough since Mickey Rocque has filed to run against Judge Dale Ross, It appears that Mickey has never sought to recuse Judge Stacey Ross from his criminal cases. It appears that Judge Stacy Ross did the right thing on her own volition and recused herself off of Mickey Rocque’s cases when he apparently chose not to.

    Finally, it should be noted that in Mickey Rocque’s financial filings at the time he filed he had $15,000.00 cash to his name and he used approx $5800 for his filing fee.

    Did Mickey run for Judge to become a Judge or to get an automatic recusal from Judge Ross? You make the call?

  7. Pharaoh Joe says:

    Buddy is an old phoney baloney.

    Buddy knows all the hooror stories about Judges Ross and Judge Diaz.

    Anything for an incumbent friend is Buddy Baloney’s motto.

  8. There every day... says:

    Dale Ross is and always has been a bully or is indeed rude and sarcastic. It is time to give someone else a chance. Rocque is sharp, but rather much a gadfly who claimed to have brain damage–literally–in his own civil lawsuit just a couple years ago. He had a monitoring lawyer attend any significant hearing due to his brain damage. Diaz is a dullard who has a poor ethical record and is lazy as it gets. High time for him to leave is favor of Rochelle Banks or Randy Goodis.

  9. Sam the Sham says:

    We need to change the rules and allow judicial candidates to campaign like anybody else. That means answering real questions, debates, everything.

    If we need to change the law to hold their campaign speech harmless, so it cannot be used to appeal one of their later judicial decisions, so be it. The answer is not removing them further from the electorate, but bringing them closer.

  10. Las Olas Lawyer says:

    It seems to me that Buddy is not supporting Ross. He’s playing it down the middle. He had a lot of nice things to say about Mickey.

  11. ExCompassionate Conservative says:

    What about the 5th reason Buddy?

    A vanishing daily newspaper with news .

    Our local Sun Sentinel has virtually no coverage of substance. For every speeding cop or mtg fraud article series they produce, they run a few dozen issues with front page coverage of fluff like Justin Bieber or Tribune rethreads.

  12. Continuing saga says:

    Interesting story by You Make The Call…however, to add to the intrigue, Judy Stern’s daughter, Barbra Stern, is in the same firm as attorney Jeff Dwyer, who had Judge Dale Ross disqualified. Hmmmmm!?! Looks very fishy !!!!!

  13. Real Deal says:

    Judges should be appointed by randomly selected panels of retired judges that screen the candidates and recommend a selection based on statewide criteria that looks for talent, temperament and diversity.

    No applicant that has not first successfully completed a rigorous course of study on how to be a judge may be elibible to apply. Being a judge is very different than being a lawyer, special knowledge and skills are required and beyond study there should be practical training in mock cases. Retired judges should form part of the faculty and be required to concur in order for anyone to be certified as trained to serve as a judge.

    Strict rules can be implemented to protect the integrity of the process.

    Once a judge is appointed to serve there should be a review of their performance against accepted statewide standards at 5 years and again at 10 years. No state judge should be allowed to serve longer than 25 years.

    It should not be based on a system where lawyers organize fundraisers for the judges they would practice before, and where citizens are forced to vote for candidates who cannot by rule truly campaign for office. No judge should have to undergo the indignity of raising money to run for office. It is unethical.

    All the talk about this approach not being perfect does not diminish the fact that it would be many times better than the approach we currently have to electing judges. Merit appointment will undoubtedly result in a better state and local judiciary.

  14. Rocuqe, as in Joke says:

    Ok, I will make the call, its BS what Rocque did. See the caselaw below, it is clear that a lawyer should not come into a case for the sole purpose of creating a recusal. It is referred to as forum shoping. It sure seems interesting that Rocque just happened to enter the case AFTER he qualifed as a candidate againt Ross, yet he represented the guy for almost two months prior in another matter.

    Is this what we want on the Bench?

    773 So. 2d 600,
    OLEGARD SUME and FRISNER BOYER, Petitioners, v. STATE OF FLORIDA, Respondent.

    A motion to disqualify a judge could be based on a conflict between the judge and a lawyer representing a party, but in this case the alleged conflict was created by a decision to retain a new lawyer late in the proceeding. Attorney Cascone was retained as co-counsel long after Judge Foster had been assigned to the case.

    Because Cascone brought the conflict into the case, his client cannot now argue that the judge must step aside. As the court explained in Town Centre of Islamorada, Inc. v. Overby, 592 So. 2d 774 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992) [**5]

  15. christine says:

    @EX

    They actually make daily newspapers anymore?

  16. Perfect amount says:

    hmmm, $15,000.00 usually one only have such a nice round amount in the bank when you just deposit money into your account. One has to wonder if that 15k was maybe a reatiner, for legal fees and filing fees?

  17. A Wee Bit Strange says:

    Nos. 6 & 14 above indicate that the poster has:
    1. an emotional investment in the race.
    2. a close tie to the judge.
    3. plenty of time to do research.
    4. a bit of a geek factor in that he would post twice after the same article.

  18. a wee bit true says:

    It can be a wee bit strange but no one is denying its all a wee bit true. Rocque using his candidacy to get into a case to force a recusal seems to violate the law as cited above and could reasonably be seen as unethical conduct.

    The voters is this community have the right to know information such as this to judge for themselves the character and credibility of Candidate Rocque.

    Maybe Buddy will call Rocque or Dwyer for comment or they can certainly come on here and refute the allegations. If they do not it would appear their silence speaks volumes.

  19. A Wee Bit Strange Too says:

    That’s three posts now. Look, I have no dog in this fight and I don’t know enough about either chap to form an opinion, but can you find something to do with your time besides chronically posting on this blog?
    Dear Jesus, get a hobby or a girlfriend or take up gardening.
    Geesh!

  20. Laurent Altvatter says:

    My experience with the
    Honorable Terry ann Miller. She sided with a land lord from NYC.( where she is from)
    and I lost my business and my home.
    Now I am unemployed and homeless.
    Had the “Not So Honorable” TERRY ANN MILLER.
    DONE HER DUE DELIGENCE. She would of realized the slumlords from NYC, was lying to her. Never Check the claim of the tenant. and sided with NYC slumlord.
    She is the cause of an
    UNEMPLOYED HOMELESS VETERAN IN BROWARD COUNTY

  21. Peter Inman says:

    I recused Judge Thomas Lynch myself back in early 90,s. Not hard to do, especially when their as arrogant and biased as he.

  22. John Pereda says:

    Judge terri ann miller would not go along with the states efile evicition system….she has caused 100′s of property owners thousands of dollars in losses.

    She has been in conflict with the clerk of the court. She has ignored the law.

    Do much for the little guy. …I own a duplex and because judge terry ann miller

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