Criticism of Judicial Candidate Mardi Cohen Wrong


Mardi Anne Levey Cohen’s absentee voter mail advertising shows a picture of her opponent  F. Jahra McLawrence.

Because he is black, everybody who doesn’t like Cohen including Public Defender Howard Finkelstein are wringling their hands and tuttutting. 

They charge that the Cohen piece is racist.  They are wrong.    

I would agree with the critics, except that McLawrence to his credit has made no secret that he is black.  

His website features pictures of him.  He has appeared frequently before white audiences.  

Because of that, the critics of Cohen are way off base.

Cohen’s ad is designed to compare the candidates’ qualifications.  She argues that her 23 years of legal experience, including a stint as an assistant state attorney trumps McLawrence’s seven years as a Florida lawyer. 

“I created a piece that in my heart was designed to compare my qualifications with his.  That’s all it was designed to do, Cohen told

She said she mailed less than 10,000 to early voters and absentee voters.

“I certainly did not target whites with this piece, she said.

There were allegations of racism surrounding her use of a black-and-white photo of McLawrence and a color portrait of her.

Give me a break.

Using a black-and-white photo is a common practice many candidates use against their opponents.  It is a technique designed to make an opponent look shifty and ominous, not black.

I was just in Pennsylvania.  I link here an ad I saw frequently on TV supporting Pat Toomy for U. S. Senate and attacking his opponent  Joe Sestak.   Notice that Sestak is in black-and-white.

Both Toomy and Sestak are white.

Want more proof?  Cohen used a black and white comparison piece four years ago in her losing judicial race against Marina Garcia Woods, a white Hispanic.

There might be reasons to vote against Cohen.  The comparison piece isn’t one of them.

17 Responses to “Criticism of Judicial Candidate Mardi Cohen Wrong”

  1. Kevin says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with you on this one, Buddy. This is a trick that has been used several times in Broward. How many times have you seen people in this election cycle use pictures of their opponents in judicial elections? With the canon of judicial ethics (an oxymoron, it seems, in Broward recently), all one can do is pretty much print his or her resume. Comparison pieces are very rare in judicial races, and most of those I can remember in recent years have been just like this…. someone running against a black candidate. I can also remember black candidates not putting their own pictures in their own mailings in judicial races around here.

    Having said that, the “Jewish names” strategy that apparently worked so well in 2006 and 2008 seems to be failing in 2010, so maybe this won’t work either.


  2. Boo hoo - Poor Mardi says:

    10,000 pieces to early/absentee voters…..

    Considering there are well over 200,000 of those folks, I wonder how she selected her 10,000?

    Could it be that there are Tamarac (Kings Point), and Pembroke Pines (Century Village), Deerfield (Century Village), Coconut Creek (Wynmoor) and a couple other smaller communities included in that 10,000?

    It doesn’t matter of McLawrence isn’t “hiding” the fact that he is Black.

    The fact remains that she did a misleading comparison piece with a darkened black and white photo of her African-American candidate and targeted it to a small segment of the early voting/absentee population.

    Judicial candidate name or face recognition is probably about 5-10% at most in any race unless you’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    I wonder how many more people now know McLawrence just because of his race and Mardi’s piece.

    Her intent was and is clear.

    Don’t buy her sob story…she’s had one every time she’s run.

  3. Kevin says:

    That is an EXCELLENT point. Sending out only 10,000 ABS pieces shows there was either some targeting, or she does not know what the hell she is doing. I’ll bet you that these are only being sent to certain precincts that end with R (Sunrise).

  4. Buddy Nevins says:

    Boo hoo – Poor Mardi does have an excellent point.
    I can only say that she contends, “I certainly did not target whites with this piece.” I have no proof other than her comment.
    However, I disagree with the another part of the comment. The idea that she would only target “Tamarac (Kings Point), and Pembroke Pines (Century Village), Deerfield (Century Village), Coconut Creek (Wynmoor)” is biased against the seniors living there. If they are biased, they would probably vote for a Cohen over a McLawrence anyway. These are precincts that have voted for blacks in the past. I would target Republican districts with such a piece.

  5. Elroy_John says:

    I have to agree with the previous comments. Broward has a clear history with these kind of duplicitous mailers in our judicial races. Even if Mrs. Cohen had no malicious intent, any prudent person familiar with Broward politics would’ve known better than to send this one out. It’s a case of bad judgement…not good when running for judge.

  6. Death Frog 3 says:

    Ok I have to weigh in here. I agree it is unusual for judicial candidates to send out these type of mailings. Kind of a faux pas like wearing white after labor day.

    My thought is if Mardi was courting the racist vote she is barking up the wrong tree.

    With racism comes all sorts of bigotry. So do you think a person who would note vote for a black man would vote for a Jewish woman? I think not.

    I also take issue with the implication that she is catering to the racist republicans.

    If I remember my history correctly (and a few episodes of Boardwalk Empire) most of the equal rights legislation came from the republicans. I think back to the Emancipation Proclamation (Lincoln was a R)

    The right for blacks to vote, the civil rights legislation all had republican backing.

    Those Governors denying the black kids into school were all D’s as I recall.

    In full disclosure, I am Libertarian. I just don’t think the D or the R has the claim to all that is right and virtuous.

  7. The Long Black Robe (Ret) says:

    Mardi Cohen should know better than to leave herself open to charges of bigotry. If she didn’t want to appeal to bias, she showed an amazing lack of judgement. Her opponent is light on experience, while Mardi has the experience to be a judge. Experience doesn’t replace judgement in a judge and in this case Mardi showed a lack of it.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I agree that either she intentionally did it, or exercised poor judgment in doing it. Either case, whether she’s a racist or a moron, or both, she’s not judge material. And I agree that she has a lot of other dirt in her background that precludes her as the better choice. As a wise man once told me, you could have 23 years of experience, but that could be 23 years of messing everything up and doing things wrong. Broward county doesn’t need 23 years of incompetence on the bench.

  9. Franerward says:

    I think this is race baiting. Pure and simple. I don’t know how you can defend this woman. The picture of the young man looks like a mug shot. There is no other way to interpret her actions except to say she is attempting to appeal to ancient hatreds and fears to win an election.

  10. Fake Nate Klitsberg says:

    Mardi got into the primary and spent almost no money and she has evidenced no biased comments during the entire process. All this talk about the picture and the anti-black advertising is a distraction. Which one would make a good judge?

  11. who dat says:

    I just sent in my absentee ballot. I didnt see any F. Jahra McLawrenceone on the ballot.

    I saw FJ,so why would someone who has always called him self Jahara during his time as a lawyer now run as FJ? Maybe we should another attorney to weigh in, is Jordan Jordan Breslaw around?

  12. Broward Lawyer says:

    @ who dat aka mardi levey cohen

    mardi has used different name every time she ran and lost. the courthouse crowd nicknamed her mardi ann levey cohen jingleheimer schmitt because of that. So when you criticize FJ it’s the pot calling the kettle black.

    @ Buddy Nevins – it is very naive not to see that the only reason mardi put mclawrence’s picture on HER literature was to show he was black. political strategist will even tell you not to mention your opponent’s name so as not to give them name recognition. also, you can do a comparison piece without the photos. very naive of you buddy, very very naive.

  13. Mardi Anne Levey Cohen Jinglheimerschmidt says:

    The issue is she made a color photo black and white. Why (any time) didn’t she make hers black and white as well?

    The bottom line is, Karma will bite Mardi NameDu-Jour again.

    She will be far from an enhancement to the Broward Judicial system

  14. AMarkoff says:

    Buddy, I think you are duped on this one. No matter her intent, it displays poor judgment and insensitivity to perceptions and to past history.

  15. Buddy Changes Position On Mardi Cohen : says:

    […] time the readers’ reasoned arguments have convinced me to reconsider my original position on judicial candidate Mardi Anne Levey […]

  16. Lawyer says:


    You were right the first time. The other guy is trying to look like he is a white Irish guy.

    Mardi used a photo that was actually rather flattering so, who cares.

    Why does everyone want to read too much into this? Since when can a candidate not do what Mardi did?

    Please ask the black guy why he is not using his real name? That is more of a story.

  17. Barbara Cole says:

    Hi Buddy, Last time it was another race and another candidate for judge that took issue with my blog. You posted that e-mail. Thought you might be interested in another exchange thus far with candidate Cohen…
    — On Sat, 10/30/10, Mardi Cohen wrote:

    From: Mardi Cohen
    Subject: Please correct your errors
    To: “”
    Date: Saturday, October 30, 2010, 12:15 AM

    Hi Barbara, I just came across your blog article about me that appears on the Internet. Just wanted to let you know that there is no bar complaint filed against me for displaying a photo of my husband on my website as you reported. Check the Florida Bar website and you will see that I have never been disciplined and no case is pending. In fact the Daily Business Review has retracted their error in reporting that incorrectly. Also there is a pending JQC complaint against my husband, but not for appearing at a recount for my election. What is important here is that it is a pending matter and you reported that he was found guilty. At this point there are only allegations.

    Further, You claim that I run against Hispanics, but I ran for judge against Jim Lewis and Marina G. Wood in 2006. In 2008 I also ran against Bernie Bober a white Jewish male. In 2010 I ran against a white male and a black male, when I went into the race I was running against a white female, Olga Levine, and two white males, Lee Seidman and Steven Schaet. In our melting pot community it would be difficult to only run against white candidates. Why criticize me for running against an Hispanic woman? Are white women not allowed to run against Hispanics and blacks? Further, I do not believe that Pedro Dijoles, who I ran against in 2008, is Hispanic he is from a Carribean country, not Hispanic- but I could be wrong about that. I was told that he does not speak a word of spanish. Lastly, my official name with the Florida Bar is Mardi Levey Cohen, not Mardi Cohen as you reported. Did you check the website? Also did you read the Fourth District Court of Appeals opinion where they ruled that women in this state can legally and naturally use their maiden names….. It’s their names.

    I would appreciate you correcting these slanderous errors in your article.

    Mardi Levey Cohen

    Sent from my iPad

    Flag this message
    Re: Please correct your errors
    Saturday, October 30, 2010 10:18 AM
    “Barbara Cole”
    Add sender to Contacts
    “Mardi Cohen”
    Hello, I believe you must be referring to a post from a few years ago when you ran last time.. I have not written anything on your current run for office. This year when I wrote about the anti-hispanic candidates it was the judges races that were local with our former Mayor Oliver Parker and using articles from the Sentinel etc…. The post a few years ago was due to meeting a gentleman who said he was the originator of Jaablog at the LBTS Benihana’s who told me that this issue of your name was going to happen and then seeing it in the papers after that encounter. If you can tell me the date of the post you are referring to I will be happy to add your clarifications from your e-mail to it for an update,if that is what you are asking for.
    Barbara Cole
    “Barbara Cole”
    Add sender to Contacts
    “Mardi Cohen”
    Hello again, I did a Google and perhaps what you are referring to is a post from Aug. 17, 2010. I did not recall it due to the fact that the portion pertaining to you was a copy of the Pompano Beach Sentry as stated on their endorsements.
    As I stated before any other post was from your prior race and copies of text from other sources after my encounter at the restaurant as stated in my prior e-mail. Also, the issue at the forefront of the Aug. 17, 2010 post was our former Mayor Oliver Parker as also stated in my prior e-mail. Hope that clears it up. Again, if you would like your e-mail added on to that post as an update,let me know. Barbara Cole