Blogs Drive Judicial Races


Broward County Judge Lee Seidman has a blog problem.

Running for re-election, Seidman has been thrashed repeatedly by anonymous comments in blogs.  One of the allegations, which appeared in’s comment section on a post before the Holidays, concern a DUI case Seidman presided over.

The case was leaked to me last year by a Seidman opponent.  I investigated it and decided that it was unlikely Seidman would throw a case for a $250 campaign contribution. Attorneys also told me that the sentence Seidman imposed on the defendant was proper and not in any way unique.

Now blogger Chaz Stevens’ Acts of Sedition has taken up the cudgel.  Stevens has one of the best blogs in South Florida, so readers deserve a look at what he wrote.  Here is the link and you decide about Seidman.

The lesson of this is that judicial races are changing fast. 

With the cutbacks in the general media, the races will largely be fought through paid media like mailed advertising.  And on Internet sites like, JAABlog and Acts of Sedition.  

But on blogs, the Judicial Code of Ethics is hard to enforce.

Is that a good thing?  Or does the Code of Ethics which forbids many types of attacks by judicial candidates against their opponents need adjusting in the Internet Age? 

Unless the Code changes, the campaigns will be increasingly dominated by anonymous attacks.  Wouldn’t it be better if the candidates could attack their opponents and not rely on faceless surrogates?  


Remember these Internet campaigns are largely uncontrollable.

The handful of criminal defense attorney who are driving these biting bits aimed at judicial candidates should realize — the Internet is neutral.  Their opponents could launch anonymous campaigns and dominate the blogs, too.

If I was advising Seidman’s campaign, I would tell his supporters to immediately launch a digital defense on the Internet to support the judge and attack his opponents.    

My bottom line: All this Internet infighting and the question it raises about the Code of Judicial Ethics convinces me even more that my longheld believe about the bench is correct — Judges should be appointed, not elected.

10 Responses to “Blogs Drive Judicial Races”

  1. Law man says says:

    You left out that if judges were appointed there would be no need to collect campaign contributions, thus Seidman wouldn’t have questions about his $250. Appointees don’t have to finance their campaigns from the Broward Defense Bar membership.

  2. Blog Fan says:

    Buddy –

    While blogs certainly are entertaining and a place where news can be gotten that the mainstream media won’t pick up (or at least haven’t picked up on yet), I don’t think the blogs are “driving” the judicial races.

    There are certainly a number of malcontents and internet vandals who post vicious personal attacks on judges and candidates, but in the end, how many voters outside the “courthouse club” are really reading JAAB, etc.

    No disrespect to Bill and the folks at those blogs, as I am a regular reader, but ask 99% of Broward County what JAAB is or who Chaz Stevens is, and they’ll look at you like you have 2 heads.

    So who are the courthouse bloggers really reaching other than the other bloggers and the lawyers that frequent these sites? Probably very very few.

    The lawyers already know the judges and many of the candidates, so are there really more than a handful of “swing voters” actually reading Chaz Stevens or JAAB or (forgive me on this) even Broward Beat — probably not. They are a good resource for those already in the know or involved, but there aren’t voters out there hunting down blogs on the internet to read about County Court candidates.

    I would suspect that if you called the candidates in Seidman’s race, they’d all say that the personal attacks are inappropriate and serve no purpose – and while the informative posts that you describe might give a basis for further review, they should be viewed with skepticism.

    The candidtes should rise or fall on their own merits and the qualities of their opponents, and it is doubtful that some blog posts will have any real effect.

    By the way, it should be noted that there were lots of personal attacks on JAAB and elsewhere on all the candidates in this race (McLawrence, Klitsberg, and Seidman) and there are regular attacks on the candidtes in all the other races too (Hurley, Donoho, Backman, Levy Cohen, Howes, Solomon, etc.).

    Why do the attacks on Judge Seidman warrant an article but not the personal attacks that have been made against the other candidates?

    FROM BUDDY: I’ll answer your last question first. The allegations about Seidman are very well documented. Although I reached the conclusion the allegations have no merit, they are not personal attacks, but concern the judge’s conduct on the bench.

    You are right. It is largely only those handful of folks interested in judicial races that read the blogs you mentioned. However, those are the people who are very influential in such campaigns.

    First of all, lawyers like the ones who read JAABlog, etc., provide most of the contributions to judicial races. Second, the campaign structure of judicial races involve many lawyers. Third, average voters ask lawyers who to vote for in judicial races.

    Fourth, the blogs reach what is called the “political elites,” those very interetsed and involved in politics. If they get the impression from the blogs that a candidate is a loser, it can become reality

    Fifth, the blogs are heavily read by the general media, who often pick up stories from them. Witness’s story about the grandmother who was put in jail in error. It was picked up by almost every media outlet in South Florida and even the New York Daily News. Many of’s posts have been picked up by the general media, too.

    Sixth, the blogs can drive a campaign. The New Times blog story about Judge Hurley got much more currency because it was circulated as comments on many blogs around town. Hurley has already had to answer questions about the issues raised about his trips to Tallahassee in a frat brother’s plane. (Hurley says he paid for the trips and there is nothing to the stories. But he was forced to answer them.)

    All in all, its a new world. The Internet blogs are part of it.

  3. Chaz Stevens says:


    Thanks for the kind words.

    I would, however, like to disagree with your point that the “Internet is neutral”. Acts of Sedition’s tag line is “Not fair. Not balanced”. I, unlike those nitwits at Faux News, make no bones about the fact that I am highly opinionated.

    Am I against Seidman? I am if he did something wrong.

    See, I am against anyone who corruptly uses their office for personal gain. Violate the public trust and expect my size 11 shoe up your ass.

    About 3-4 years ago, I foresaw a drop in ad revenue for newspapers, forcing layoffs which would result in less reporters covering larger areas. That’s the reason I launched the Sedition. Someone needed to step to the plate… And the importance of blogs like yours and mine took off…

    In the coming days, the merging of newspapers and blogs – hyperlocal news – is only bound to get tighter and tighter.

    Which means, in the end, it’s a good day to be in the blogging business.

    Thanks again for the consideration.


    By being neutral, I meant that the comment sections of blogs are generally open to everyone. And even your opinionated blog would most likely print something against Seidman’s opponents, if it checked out. If not in your blog, it could be printed in some other blog —;, The Daily Juice,, PoliticalInsider, JAABlog, whatever.
    “It’s a good day to be in the blogging business,” you wrote.
    So far there is very little business in it, but a lot of fun.

  4. not a lawyer says:

    I met Judge Seidman at a NRA meeting. I asked him why he thought he had opposition. He gave me his answer. I followed up by asking some JDs in town who regularly appear before him. I further did my investigation on the Jusge and i came to realize that he did nothing wrong that would warrant his removal from office other then some lawyers in town who might think that he won’t give away the courthouse. He is a very fair judge. I too contributed $250 to the GOOD JUDGE. IB

  5. Chaz Stevens says:

    @Not a lawyer

    Not sure how much up to speed you are on the vernacular of the Internet, but your comment reminded me of the following term whose definition I retrieved from

    Internet White Knight
    Someone who stands up for girls on the internet they barely know, hopefully so they can engage in sexually intercourse with them. Usually males. They are douches who can’t get none in real life.

  6. anonymous says:

    1) Buddy, the judicial code of ethics does apply on blogs. If anonymous’s IP address was obtained and it belonged to a judge or candidate then what they wrote might be subject to the Judicial Code.

    2) So now I hope that you, Buddy, understand how important it is to get ALL the facts before you write about a candidate. If you only get your info from blog comments then you may be perpetuating someone else’s false information or biases unfairly. You have an important responsibility to get the facts right.

    FROM BUDDY: Of course, the code applies to judicial candidates on the Internet. The Internet allows anyone to easily influence judicial campaign and that is what is not governered.

    The easy involvement by anyone in voicing their opinions about campaigns is what is new. The use of the comment section of Internet blogs by campaigns is also new.

    The candidate can’t say anything, but his buddies can! That’s what makes the Code hypocritical.

    It is similar to the situation with political action committees, but it is easier to trace who’s behind PACs and committees. The PACs are also changing judicial races.

    I believe that some judicial candidates are involved in commenting on the Internet or in the PACs benefitting their campaigns. How do you police that? How does a candidate fight the anonymous lie unless he is allowed to attack back?

    Or do you just allow candidates to say anything about each other, like those running for any other office?

  7. not a lawyer says:

    @ CHAZ
    still living home with mommy? couldn’t get accepted to law school? haven’t decided if u r male or what-nut? can’t get laid in a french whore house with a $1000 bill hanging from ur dirty business? going through life name CHAZ is pretty trumatic i get it now. if u got nothing positive to contribute CHAZZY i suggest filing out a donor’s card, hopping on a motorcycle and riding on 95 against traffic WITHOUT a helmet. no need to protect your brain!

  8. Chaz Stevens says:

    Here’s the followup story. Teaser alert: it gets much more interesting.

  9. Captain Kirk says:

    Looks like the Adjudicator is frantically posting again.

  10. Chaz Stevens says:

    Here’s the first draft of the complaint I plan to file against Broward Court Judge Lee Seidman. As all three of my lawyers are in court at the moment, I’d really appreciate any comments, suggestions, or the such.

    Drop me an email if you have an idea…