Update: Opposition Surfaces To Few Broward Judges




Judges Bob Diaz, Michael Davis,  Ernest Kollra, Robert Lee and Michael Usan are just plain unlucky.

They are the few Broward judges who have a reelection challenger.

But other judges should not relax.  Its not over until its over at the close of qualifying Friday at Noon, (May 4).

Here are the unlucky four:

  • Diaz, who won reelection in 2012 with 59 percent of the vote, was appointed to the Broward County Court by Gov. Lawton Chiles in 1992.  His opponent is veteran criminal Fort Lauderdale defense attorney Michael Heise. 
  • Davis, who was appointed the Broward County Court by Gov. Rick Scott in 2016, was challenged by perennial judicial candidate Rhoda Sokoloff, who has a family law practice.
  • Kollra, who was appointed to the Broward Circuit Court by Gov. Scott in 2016, was challenged by Alan Schneider, a Hollywood real estate attorney.

Ernest Kollra


  • Lee was appointed to the Broward County Court by Gov. Lawton Chiles in 1997.  Hispanic and gay, Lee became internationally known for his role in the 2000 presidential vote recount in Broward. His opponent is Stephen Lustig, a traffic ticket attorney.

Robert Lee at 2000 Recount 

  • Usan was appointed to the Broward Circuit Court by Gov. Charlie Crist in 2010.  His challenger is Richard Brian Kaplan, who represents poor defendants who can’t be represented by the Public Defender because of a conflict.

Here is an earlier post on the election:


Despite all the threats for the past year about challenging judges picked by Gov. Rick Scott, almost every one appeared safe as qualifying began this week for the 2018 election. 

Democratic-leaning lawyers and the courthouse grapevine have buzzed about Scott-selected judges drawing opposition.

The theory is that Scott’s judges could be stigmatized in heavily Democratic Broward. Just mentioning that a judge was appointed by the conservative GOP governor Scott could lose them votes, according to this theory.

Apparently it was all empty threats.   

No incumbents have been challenged, except for Broward Circuit Court Judge Michael Usan.  And Usan was appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist in 2010, not Scott.


Michael Usan


What did Usan do to annoy attorney Richard Brian Kaplan enough to challenge Usan? (Here is an earlier post on Kaplan.)

In contrast to the seats already occupied, a number of Circuit Court and County Court jobs that opened because the incumbent retired have drawn multiple candidates. 

One exception: Circuit Court Group 43, attorney Dan Casey appears about to accomplish a rarity — walking into an open seat without opposition. 

Maybe Casey’s resume has scared opponents away.

Casey is a former Miami-Dade prosecutor who went on to help build a 2000-lawyer international law firm.  Plus his experience includes Chair of the National Board of the YMCA. 


Dan Casey


Another unopposed candidate for an open Circuit Court seat Kristin W. Padowitz drew a challenge from Karen E. Berger of Pompano Beach this week.  


Kristin Padowitz



Incumbents shouldn’t get too comfortable.

Qualifying for judicial office doesn’t end until Noon, Friday May 4.

History has proven that qualifying for judicial office is not over until its over, with challengers sometimes surfacing minutes before the candidate books close.    


12 Responses to “Update: Opposition Surfaces To Few Broward Judges”

  1. The Year of Barbra Miller says:

    All of these great candidates are clients of Barbra Miller. You see the best candidates wish to avoid people like Ahern, Stern and Dan Lewis. Miller is a woman of class whose gravitas and great skill elevates the candidates she works with. More importantly she doesn’t have any baggae or scandal in her past.
    My bet is Casey and Padowitz get in unopposed. All their money and Miller, that is an unbeatable pairing.


    Miller has been involved in judicial races for decades, winning some and losing others.

    I’m not sure that she can be credited with victories by running unopposed campaigns. That’s a common political consultant’s boast, but I personally give them very little credit for winning a race that never went to the voters.

    One common complaint about Miller: She spend much of the year in Italy, leaving the campaigns to associates.

    Here is my take on Miller from eight years ago: https://www.browardbeat.com/the-quiet-return-of-barbara-miller/

  2. angrywomenofflorida@gmail.com says:

    Barbra Miller is a apart of the Florida democrat establishment, which can’t win any statewide races. Delivering statewide is the key, to saying you’re an a plus status campaigner. None of them are able to do that.

  3. angrywomenofflorida@gmail.com says:

    Michael Usan, is Barbra Miller candidate. Can she protect him from, Italy. No.

  4. Funny line about Stern and Miller says:

    An old time DEC guy said this years ago…

    In high school Barbra Miller was the classy girl next door you wanted your parents to meet.

    Judy Stern is the girl behind the curtain at prom who had a fifth of scotch and woukd do you right but you didn’t want your friends and parents to know.

  5. Justina says:

    This is very upsetting. Judge Usan is a popular, respected jurist. He is polite, respectful and knows the law. I have appeared before him many times and wish more judges were like him.

    His opponent is mostly known around the courthouse for his frequent outbursts and uncivil behavior. He has also been going around boasting that he will unseat an incumbent because he has a good election name and Judge Usan does not and voters are easily fooled. It’s disgusting.

    Buddy, please do some research on this Kaplan. He has a very poor record and an even worse reputation.

  6. John Doe says:

    Abby Freedman just reached out to the mother of one of the Parkland Shootings victims who is running against her to beg her to run against someone else. I can’t give my name or I’d loose my job. I over heard her and I find this to be the type of politics that is killing this country. If you can’t win fair – dont win. (sorry buddy posted on the wrong page)

  7. say what says:

    What’s with the spelling on Miller’s name? We’re not talking about Barbra Streisand here, right?

    Just like in that old story Buddy wrote from years ago, Amy Rose and Mike Kaplan are still doing the heavy lifting. But it’s ok, they’re a great team and anyone would be fortunate to have them compared to the den of thieves in this town.

    Let’s see who’s running when Friday at noon comes and goes.

  8. No to Sheriff Israel... No to Amy Rose says:

    All those pics of Abby being sworn into office by Sheriff Israel and her past campaigns run by the Sheriff’s top campaign person Amy Rose…I would be begging that woman not to run as well.

    If Miller’s candidates are tied into Sheriff Israel’s top campaign person Amy Rose, those candidates better not be looking for votes in NW Broward.

    Amy Rose brought us Scott Israel. Her judgment can’t be trusted as to any other candidates. Those candidates via Rose are too closely tied to Sheriff Israel to be trusted.

    We need better candidate not clones of a Sheriff who thinks he is a rock star.

  9. School board shenanigans says:

    John Doe – what was the “right” page to post this on? And how would you lose your job? Unless you’re Abby Freedman’s housekeeper she can’t fire you! Kind of bizarre. Are you being held hostage and just managed to sneak in a quick blog comment? If you want us to send help in your next post use the secret code word: Runcie

  10. Stormwatch says:

    If Im not mistaken, after Governor Chiles appointed Diaz in July 1992′ Diaz then had to run in November 1992 and upset some favorite named Javits. That was the same year Jim Howard knocked-off Nick Navarro, but then Ron Cochtan beat Howard.


    Good memory. Diaz, a former public defender, beat David Javits roughly 2 to 1. Javits was a cousin of U. S. Sen. Jacobs Javits, R-NY.

    Javits complained that a dirty trick beat him and one that was alleged to be unethical under the prohibition against partisan campaigning. Javits contended that every Republican was sent a sample ballot stating Diaz was a Republican, while every Democratic was sent a sample ballot stating he was a Democrat.

  11. who can it be now says:

    If Barbara Miller works with Amy Rose, and Amy Rose ran Abby Freedman’s campaigns, and Scott Israel’s campaigns, well then I’d hire them too. Their job is to help guide a campaign to victory. Candidates are never a clone of one another no matter who is running the race.

    Here’s a map of every precinct in Broward showing the results of Scott Israel’s last election. I’d say candidates can look for votes anywhere, regardless of who runs their campaign.


  12. MSD STRONG says:

    I think the fortunes of Israel as well as Rose have turned south since the last election.