Guns: Even Judge Candidates Talk About Them

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

 

 

Tiptoeing its way into Broward County campaigns for judge is the hottest political issue of the moment:  Guns.  

Judicial candidates are still forbidden from taking positions on political issues such as gun control. That is because taking a public stand could jeopardize the appearance of impartiality in future cases. 

So judicial candidates are being very, very careful.

Family law attorney Camille Coolidge-Shotwell injects into her campaign her harrowing experience with gun violence, without taking any political position.

 

Camille Coolidge-Shotwell

 

Her sister-in-law Terri Coolidge was murdered in 2016 by her boyfriend Royce Teets wielding an assault rifle.

Teets was accused of stalking two other women before the murder. He allegedly told police he went ballistic during an argument with Coolidge, grabbed one of his two AK-47s and blasted her in the chest. 

He scheduled to go on trial later this year.   

If that wasn’t enough, Coolidge-Shotwell’s husband, Fort Lauderdale Police homicide detective Mark Shotwell, was critically wounded during a gun battle in the parking lot of an Irish pub in 2014. Shotwell fatally shot a gun-wielding man who had been threatening a waitress.

Coolidge-Shotwell said she received an opinion on discussing guns from the high judicial ethics pooh-bass in Tallahassee. It stated that she was allowed to discuss her experiences with gun violence “as long as I don’t take a position on a solution.”

Voters can draw their own conclusions on what she believes concerning guns, she said. 

Her stories about how gun violence affected her family twice will no doubt stand out from the routine campaign speeches spouted by most judicial candidates. 

Coolidge-Shotwell is running for Circuit Court Group 39 against another family law attorney, Susan Lynn Alspector.

A different much more veiled way to bring up guns is being used by Linda Marie Leali, a Pompano Beach bankruptcy attorney. Leali is the Circuit Court Group 38 candidate against three other lawyers.  

Leali named Marjory Stoneman Douglas junior Ana Solano to her campaign committee.  The candidate announced the move on Facebook: 

 

 

Judicial campaign committees raise money for the candidate and plan fund raising events.

Leali doesn’t mention guns. Just Marjory Stoneman Doulgas High School.

Only a brain-dead South Floridian would miss the connection.

Would Solano have been named to the committee if she wasn’t attending Marjory Stoneman Douglas? 

You decide this one, too. 

 



10 Responses to “Guns: Even Judge Candidates Talk About Them”

  1. Anonymous says:

    A wonderful lawyer who will make a good judge., Very caring during my divorce.

  2. Travis says:

    I don’t know about her other qualifications. Who can refuse a red-headed women?

  3. Linda Leali, candidate for judge says:

    I was very surprised to read your column and the suggestion that I had Ana Solano, a student at Stoneman Douglas H.S. on my committee as a method for bringing up guns in my judicial campaign.

    I have known Ana, or as I call her Sofia, since she was in kindergarten.

    Our families have been very close and she is truly like a daughter to me. When she was old enough and while I was still an attorney at White & Case I would take her annually to our Bring your Daughter to Work day. I am her younger sister’s god mother and we have spent practically every major holiday and family birthday together for the last eleven years. Here are some photos from throughout the years, including a trip to Kennedy Space Center, Halloween, Sofia with my daughter when she was a baby, her sister Sarah and her mom and my daughter etc.

    Not only is Sofia beautiful as you can see from the photos, but she is smart as well. Next year she will be her high school debate president. According to her, because of my influence on her and her experiences at White & Case she plans to study law and she plans to go to one of the top colleges in the country. I am very proud of her and extremely humbled that she looks to me as a mentor.

    I am a firm believer in giving equal opportunities to women. I was the founding chair of a chapter of the Florida Association of Women lawyers leadership committee and served in that role for several years. I am the founder of the chapter’s annual Leadership Summit which is in its sixth year. The Leadership Summit is designed to promote women in the law through providing various mentors to guide younger women lawyers. I also serve on the resource board for the National Association of Women Judges, the nation’s leading organization of women jurists. As part of that organization I regularly have educated judges on the importance of promoting women for judicial appointments such as for a receiver, mediator or other court appointed position. These are appointments for which women are frequently overlooked. My point in telling you this, is that reaching out to the younger women to give them a hand up is important to me.

    My goal for Sofia is for her to achieve her dreams and engaging her in this process is hopefully a step that will be helpful. My daughter Violet is also supporting me in my campaign by playing her violin at campaign events. She also attends other community events and has been inspired to start planning her own election for next year’s student counsel. As a woman lawyer, I know that mentors are crucial. Hopefully I am making a difference and helping to provide them the life skills to make them a success.

  4. Give me a break says:

    This is not about being critical of the young woman. It is being critical of the fact that you continually refer to her on social media and at events as “a Junior from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas”. No one doubts that you are being helpful to this young girl or she is aiding your campaign.

    The problem is that you refer to her class and high school at the same time other members of the Junior class were killed, injured or scarred for life while attending Marjorie Stoneman Douglas. Coincidence? Hard to imagine that if this young woman was currently attending Coral Springs High School, you would even mention it.

    On Facebook, in the upper right hand comer of the post where it has “…” you can see the edits to that specific post. You edited the post 4 or 5 times removing the reference to MSD and adding it back in. Clearly, your actions show that the focus of the post was on bringing attention to where this young woman attended high school.

  5. Let's be honest says:

    Regardless of the prior relationship, it’s clear that there was some “branding” motive in attaching the MSD name to the campaign via facebook. But for the events of February 14, 2018, that post would never have been posted to the campaign website otherwise.

  6. Curious says:

    My question to the candidate would be what if it is a cop and they are violent with guns. What would her position be ?

  7. Sue Miller says:

    Mrs. Coolidge-Shotwell is one of the most genuine people I have the pleasure of knowing. She has but one agenda…justice for all. Her sense of fairness, honesty and integrity will serve Broward County well.

  8. Bankruptcy Lawyer? says:

    How in the world is a bankruptcy attorney qualified to be a circuit court judge? How many jury trials do you get in bankruptcy court? It is a very specific area of law that doesn’t play out well in other courtrooms. Not to say that is an easy area of law, it isn’t. However, the rules of procedure are different, The Rules of Evidence are different, pleading requirements are different. It is all different.

  9. The Facts says:

    Linda Leali is more than qualified to serve as a Circuit Court Judge in Broward County. The bare assumptions above have no factual support. For starters, Linda presents and teaches state court judges on a regular basis, including at our state-wide circuit court conference. Additionally, she has been requested on numerous occasions to present and teach state court judges on receivership law and proceedings supplementary and other topics – note that Bankruptcy law derives most of its rights from state property law). How many of the other candidates in any of the races can say that? This is not to mention all of her dedication to ensuring our courts are fair through voter education. Linda also worked for many years at the prestigious firm of White & Case where she handled multiple complex business matters. Without question, she is more than capable of adjudicating a complex business case. And last year she successfully handled on a pro bono basis a multi-day family law trial involving equitable distribution, alimony, child support and relocation. Frankly, subject matter criticism can always be lodged about judicial candidates (i.e. a criminal lawyer with no civil law experience, a family law attorney with no criminal experience, an appellate attorney with no jury trial experience, and so on). Is it helpful to have a diverse court with different experience sets, yes. We need smart and hard-working judges on our courts. Linda is smart, hard-working and committed to our courts. The attempt to politicize the judicial process is a mistake.

  10. Dear The Facts aka Linda Leali says:

    Interesting that the post abovoe about Leali is long winded similar to Leali’s own post. I am sure she didn’t write about herself using a pseudonym. Lol.

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