Committee Ready To Support Incumbent Judges


The political committee that helped defend incumbent judges in 2010 is ready to go to work again next year.

Citizens for A Strong Judiciary is the brainchild of consultant Judy Stern and lawyer H. Collins Forman. It remains open for business on the state election division website.

If incumbents face a challenge again, Stern and Forman are dedicated to using the committee as effectively as it was used last year.

They are both strong believers in a stable judiciary.

Forman is the son of real estate czar Hamilton Forman, who thought challenging an incumbent judge harmed the courts.

Stern worked decades ago for a number of lawyers including Public Defender Howard “Help Me Howard” Finkelstein, who was then in private practice. Her start in politics was, in part, kick started by Hamilton Forman.

Citizens was formed after a number of judges faced challenges based on a sleazy strategy of cynical ethic appeal.  The challengers ran campaigns which emphasized their Jewish-sounding names.  The hope was that Jewish voters were stupid enough to reject their non-Jewish, but more qualified incumbents.

Two challengers — Olga Levine and Freida Goldstein — really had Hispanic backgrounds and weren’t born with Jewish names.

“Sorry girls, but Jewish by injection does not count,” lawyer and columnist Sam Fields wrote at the time.

Citizens raised almost $22,000 from mostly downtown Fort Lauderdale lawyers.  It was used for advertising mailed to likely voters.  The group also helped organize a speaking bureau and met with the county’s opinion makers to generate support for the incumbents.

The challengers failed.  The incumbents won

A great deal of the credit went to Stern and Forman. And if the flurry of challenges hit incumbents again next year, both are ready for the fight.

6 Responses to “Committee Ready To Support Incumbent Judges”

  1. Long time litigator says:

    The challengers of the judges were a cast of has-beens, misfits, bottom feeders, flakes and opportunists.
    The courthouse crowd knew that for the most part the challengers were an appalling group. The problem was the the citizenry didn’t know it.
    That is where Collins, Judy, Howard, Buddy, Sam and others went up to bat.
    The flip side of the situation was that there were a couple of people who pushed, prodded, encouraged and planted delusions of grandeur in the head of a few of the challengers. Hey, when one has little to no law practice and someone tells you that you can now make a good living by playing on your Jewish name, some will jump at the opportunity, even when the chances for success are negligible.
    Don’t think that the reason that so many ran against judges was an anomaly. To the contrary!. The two people who stirred the pot and did the encouraging for a number of challengers were motivated for two very different reasons. One was to strike fear in the judges who he appeared before. The other was motivated by pure vengeance.
    Fortunately, the outcome was proof that there is a higher being.
    Big thanks from a long time litigator to Collins, Judy, Howard, Buddy and Sam (and many others) for allowing me to finish my career with some semblance of sanity in our judiciary.

  2. Fort Lauderdale Lawyer says:

    I agree with Long Time Litigator that the last bunch of candidates left a lot to desire.

    We must be careful not to automatically rule out any candidate who files against an incumbent judge. There are a number of incumbents who don’t belong on the bench and should be replaced by more qualified lawyers. What complicates the recruitment is that qualified lawyers tend to make more money than they do as judges. Throwing anybody with a law degree at an incumbent is wrong.

  3. Desperate to hang on says:


    Of all the Judicial races the Stern had 2 judicial candidates (considering she lost all her other races, the declining judges were pretty smart). One candidate Carlos Rodriquez some wonder if it was more than a coincidence that Rhoda Sokoloff who filed against Rodriquez just happened to leave that race and go against Judge O’Connor. Some wonder if Robert Nichols was looking at Rodriquez and if he was persuaded to run against Judge Rebollo instead? Can it be proved? No, Buddy you have reported on Stern for years, do you think Stern is capable of doing things like this? As I await your reply I will pursue a copy of the Black Voters Guide.
    Many also speculated that Stern helped former LBS Mayor Oliver Parker in order to help her daughter who was running in the House District that encompassed LBS. Buddy, do you think that would be out of character for Stern?

    What about the nasty emails that preceded the mail piece. Oh Judy denied them to you Buddy, so that makes it false, come on. Didn’t Stern say to you and/or JAAB that she was going to take action against the emailer? No action taken? HMMMMM

    Is Stern this desperate to stay relevant? Ask the Judges themselves how much of debt of gratitude they owe Stern? Wow 22k, most of those Judges busted their butts to raise in excess of 75k or more. Ask the Judges? They will thank people like Amy Rose, Ashley Walker, Stephanie Shimko, Ed McGee, Tom O’Connell, Dan Lewis, Jack Schifrel, and others that were in the trenches for months and just didn’t raise a few bucks to put out one mailer in a week. This gambit by Stern just shows she knows she has burned too many bridges in this town and reaching has been status.
    Amy, Ashley and Stephanie are the present and future of campaigns around here. More to their credit, these ladies run clean races and win with class. The new generation looks promising.

    For you Judges in 2012, when making the choice to hire Stern give this article a good read

    Seems to read like Ms. Stern has made some “questionable” representations to a Federal Judge.

  4. As in Help Me Howard? says:

    Long time Litigator wake up…

    How many of Finkelstien’s employess ran against incumbents?

    Steinstaltz, Gonzalez-Levine and Jackovich. I dont remember Howard speaking out against these people running. He never offered support for the incumbents in these races. Even better he had no problem keeping these three on the payroll during the campaign. Howard was not incumbent protector, unless you were a minority.

  5. Appoint Judges says:

    Will we ever learn. There is no perfect way to do anything but the much better way to appoint and retain judges is through the calling of random panels of retired judges. They review applications and send the governor three names. Governor must choose from that list. It is done on merit.

    It is morally reprehensible to ask a judge candidate to raise money from lawyers that would appear before them to run a campaign. I would much rather contain and control any aspect of politics associated with appointments than have to manage the gross appearance of judges running standard campaigns.

    Appoint the judges and create rules that among other goals promote a diverse bench. We will be better off for that change.

  6. Broward Politico says:

    Interesting story Buddy. I know that Collins Forman fought hard for incumbents and his motivation was pure, i.e. incumbents ensure an independent judiciary and stability.
    Like some of the previous commentators on here, I believe Judy Stern played both sides and doesn’t really care about incumbents, judicial independence and stability. Likewise Howard Finkelstein fueled the flame to the challenging of incumbents only to see it blow up when all minority judges got opposition. So he is NOT a hero in all this.
    Most that challenged incumbents were public defenderrs and lawyers with dying practices looking for a big pay raise.
    Sorry Judy, but you’re done. Everyone knows when you hire Judy Stern, you hire her enemies. Judy has gotten caught playing dirty.
    The future in this county for political consultants is Amy Rose, Ilana Bofford Entin, Ashley Walker
    and some of the other younger names with a lot of energy and fresh ideas.
    PS is Entin on the DEC? If so she shouldn’t be consulting. Though judicial races are non-partisan.