Candidate Uses Flawed Newspaper Article Agt Opponent


Public Defender candidate Tom Lynch, a former judge, claims he is the victim of Fake News.

Lynch appears right. 

It started last week at the Plantation Democratic Club. Lynch’s opponent Gordon Weekes was speaking to the activists. 

It was mostly a boring campaign speech until Weekes noted that a 2016 newspaper article all but accused Lynch of being a racist.

The article says that Lynch sentenced blacks to tougher sentences than whites for the same crimes.

Only one problem with Weekes using that story to attack his opponent:

The story is hooey, says Lynch! 

So let’s deconstruct it. 

Published in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, it was based on a computer run of Broward Circuit Court third degree felony sentences over a dozen years — 2004-2016. 

The article states that “since 2004, Lynch handed down an average sentence…”

Yet Lynch says he wasn’t a criminal judge from 2004 to 2016.  He was a criminal judge only three years of that time. And for eight months of those three years he was on one murder trial.

“The database assigned my name to cases for at least six years before I was in the criminal division. Sloppy research and flawed journalism,” Lynch says. 

Weekes defends his use of the article: ‘

“The Herald Tribune is a respect journalistic organization. They didn’t retract the story and are standing by their work,” Weekes said when asked if he would continue to refer to the article in his speeches.

Although mentioned in passing by the Herald Tribune, it is helpful to mention that most sentences were not worked out by Lynch…or any other judge.

Sentences almost always the results of plea bargains. They are decided by the prosecutor and defense attorney and then sent to the judge to accept. 

This is how sentencing works in almost every third degree felony, the least serious felonies and the only ones surveyed by the newspaper.

Yes, judges can reject the plea bargain. Lynch did on occasion. And the final decision is always in the judges’ hands.

But in most cases judges don’t overturn a plea bargain.

For some judges, they just want to finish the case and move it out of their courtroom. Others realize that the courts couldn’t handle it if everybody asked for a trial.

But judges say it is mainly hard to justify rejecting a sentence that a prosecutor believes is best for the public and the defense attorney believes is best for the accused. 

Weekes is second-in-command in the Public Defender’s office. Public Defender Howard Finkelstein is Weekes’ boss and has endorsed him. 

Despite that endorsement Finkelstein says,“I have never heard any bad things about Tom Lynch.”

Finkelstein would have heard. He has known Lynch since they both worked together in the Broward Public Defenders Office in the 1970s.

Finkelstein blames the racial disparity in Broward sentencing on outgoing State Attorney Mike Satz.

So the Herald Tribune’s comments about Lynch don’t stand up to scrutiny. 

And its a swing and a miss by Weekes.

8 Responses to “Candidate Uses Flawed Newspaper Article Agt Opponent”

  1. Bradford Cohen says:

    Tom Lynch was one of the finest jurists on the bench. Always fair, always impartial and held both the defense and the prosecution accountable for being professional. He will make a great Public Defender. I’m am disappointed in Gordon using this rhetoric and false reporting. We should expect better from people running for our local offices than to accuse an opponent of racism, especially when everyone who practiced before Tom knows for a fact that to be false.

  2. Tell the Truth says:

    Add one more vote FOR Tom Lynch. Thank you Buddy.

  3. Michelle Boutros says:

    Well said Mr. Cohen. Weekes is unqualified and dangerous.
    He supports abusive practices at the PD’s office as
    The second in charge How dare he suggest that one of the unbiased judges in broward is a
    Racist. Shame on you Gordon Weekes. You are an embarrassment to our profession.

  4. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    #1.Bradford think about running for district comm.Ohbu would give Glassman a real run for his money.U could beat him easily.

  5. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    It’s Broward. Not surprising

  6. FTL Voter says:

    But what are Lynch’s stats for sentencing and racial disparity for those three years? The allegation could still hold true (or not).

  7. brad cohen says:

    Thank you Robert, when I ran back in 2006, I discussed at length the need for the new development to pay for burying electrical wires, water and sewer pipe upgrades, a city with free internet access, crime cameras (which I installed the first in the city in South Middle River) and corporate sponsorships to relieve the need to raise taxes for city services. It fell on deaf ears. I believe the City really needs to stop playing politics and start thinking outside the box for ways to improve individuals enjoyment in Fort Lauderdale. Thank you for the kind words.

  8. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Not the nonsense of municipal internrt access again! Miami Beach tried that AND BEFORE ADMITTING DEFEAT WASTED A FORTUNE