Judge Elijah Williams, Recession Fighter


Fort Lauderdale lawyer Ed McGee has a pitch made for our times.

The campaign treasurer for Broward Circuit Judge Elijah Williams’ re-election, McGee writes in a recent fund raising letter:

“Recognizing the difficult financial challenges we all face, Judge Williams has pledged to return all unused campaign contributions on a pro-rata basis.

Under state laws, judges can give left-over campaign money to charity. Many have taken advantage of this in the past, but most have always returned money on a pro-rata basis.

Williams’ campaign has raised $16,800 so far and spent $2,415 mainly for Nicole Geary at McGee’s office to handle the campaign.

Appointed in March 2002 by then-Gov. Jeb Bush, Williams was the first black male named to the Broward bench in more than two decades. Henry Latimer was appointed in 1979.

Williams is a Fort Lauderdale native.

According to newspaper reports when he was appointed to the bench, the judge grew up in the Dixie Court Projects, which is described as a government housing complex.

 He graduated from South Plantation High and then the University of Florida, where he received a masters in political science and later a law degree.

In 1984, he joined the Air Force. He served in the Office of the Judge Advocate General for more than five years.

Returning to Broward, he was an assistant state attorney for two years and then joined Whitelock and Williams, where he represented the Broward Sheriff’s Office under the late Ron Cochran. He joined BSO full time in 1998.

When Cochran died and Ken Jenne took over as sheriff, Williams was given a wide range of duties. He handled many BSO contracts and practiced labor, government and detention law.

Williams was a Republican who switched to the Democratic Party to vote for Cochran.

He applied to be a county court judge in 2000, but Steve DeLuca got the job.

 In 2006, Williams quit as head of a Broward judicial diversity committee in a highly-publicized dispute with Judge Mel Grossman, who had stripped the staff from the group.

Williams was in the news again Dec 1 when he swore in a new County Commissioner Al Jones, who was appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist to replace Josephus Eggelletion.

The judge now sits in Circuit Group 4, which was previously held by Judge Melanie G. May, who was elevated to the 4th District Court of Appeal.

13 Responses to “Judge Elijah Williams, Recession Fighter”

  1. Bunk says:

    What a load of bunk. Every judge in town gives back the money on a pro rata basis if they get elected without opposition. This is no grand gesture in these tough economic times.

    Why does it have to be pro rata? Because the Judge wants the donors to pay the $6000 for his filing fee. Why should donors have to pay this?

    Can someone explain how the campaign has spent almost 20% of what it raised on McGee’s office staff “running the campaign”. I have never heard of the staff of a treasurer getting almost 20% of the donations. Many treasurers or their staffs in these campaigns do it for free. All you do is file the paperwork with the Supervisor of Elections office.

    This is why I respect a Judge like Judge Seidman. Judge Seidman has always given back 100% of his donations when he was unopposed, actually paid for his own filing fee and did not pay staff outrageous fees. Its a shame that a good hard working guy like Judge Seidman even has opposition.

    If Judge Williams cared about the attorneys in these tough economic times he would pay his own filing fee and stop wasting donors money on overpaid staff.

    FROM BUDDY: Your points are interesting.
    The campaign staffer might be reimbursing herself for expenses like postage. That is allowed. All I can tell you is that just over $2,000 has been described as going to Nicole Geary for “campaign work.”

    You are right up to a point on the returned money. Most judges give the donations back. But some first buy meals and use the money in other legal ways.

    Many judges in the past have used their campaign accounts to give money to charities. This is totally legal and very much appreciated by the charities.

    Just some of the judges include Michael Kaplan (a charter school); Geoffrey Cohen (Humane Society, Wildlife Care Center and Israeli charities, among others), Jack Tutor (Humane Society) and many others.

    In the past some judges have given thousands to charities.

  2. Interesting says:

    What is interesting is that without SPD’s to give out anymore these judges dont get anywhere near the $$ the used to get.

    I personally thought it was wrong for Judges to use campaign $$ to pay their filing fee when unopposed. The Judge makes over 100k a year, great health benefits, awsome pension and other benefits. Why should those who contribute to the campaign have to pay for this expense.

    I didnt know Judge Seidman had previously done this, but I throught it was a great idea when I got the fundraising letter from Judge Gary Cowart that he was giving back 100% of this donations if he was unopposed.

    I think the Judges cant just give to charities unilaterally but have to give the option to their contributors to get their money back or give it to charity. I remember Judge Robert Lee asking me after he was reelected unopposed if I wanted to have my donation given to charity or get it back.

  3. Jeez Buddy says:

    Jeez Buddy – go look at every judge’s campaign website or committee’s email solicitation.

    THEY ARE ALL stating they will return unused donations, pro rata.

    Williams is nothing special in that regard.

    But you should ask him whether he intends to pay his own filing fee or whether the lawyers that will be donating to his campaign are paying that fee.

    How much does a Circuit Court Judge make? $145k or so? And he can’t front his own $6k and instead the lawyers that practice in front of him will pay that on his behalf through donations?

    Before you donate to a judge’s campaign — ask whether they will be making the committment of their own money to pay the filing fee needed to keep their job. It is a shame that some good judges have gotten opposition, but at least I know the money I give them is going to pay to keep them in office, not subsidize the mere filing fee for them to run unopposed.

  4. woiw says:

    Great story about what judges do year in and year out. Thanks for the revelation.

  5. Calling Sherlock Holmes says:

    Should we call in Holmes and Watson to figure out which Broward County judge posted comments #1 and #3 above?
    I’ll give you three guesses and the first two won’t count.

  6. Las Olas Law says:

    Judge Williams is a fabulous jurist who deserves to be reelected. I donate the maximum to him and would do so solely based on the incident where he stood up to Mel Grossman.

  7. Broward/Dade Lawyer says:

    I have gotten letters from 4 judges. Judges Imperato, Dishowitz and Rebollo all say they will pay their filing fees and return money pro-rata.
    Judge Luzzo like Judge Elijah Williams makes the contributors pay for their filing fees. So much for Judge Williams being a recession fighter.

  8. Calling Sherlock Holmes 2 says:

    No one “makes” contributors pay for anything. They are CONTRIBUTORS AND SUPPORTERS!
    This is a totally phony and contrived issue.
    Look, if a judge is married to another professional, has multiple homes and has never had to spend money raising kids then we can understand that some people just have a lot of extra money lying around.

  9. Betty Joe says:

    Hurley and Seidman are below average, underwater judges. Two a-holes without a clew. One worse than the other. Both like firearms,bad judicial decisions,and both will lose to opposition. Yes, Jay, yours is yet to come. Be patient…and start looking for a job. And LJ, another Jewish female is on order for your race.

  10. Pat says:

    Elijah Williams switched from Republican to Democrat so he can vote for Cochran? Do you really believe that?

    FROM BUDDY: Well, it was in the newspapers when he was named a judge so it must be true 🙂

  11. Carl T. says:

    Hurley below average? Underwater? According to whom?
    I don’t know what rock you have been under, but I practice law and I know that he is very well thought of.
    BTW, learn to spell.
    I say run anyone you want against Hurley. Stop talking and start doing. I have seen your posts( they are generally all the same) on here and on the courthouse blog. Its clear that you don’t like judge Hurley and/or are jealous.
    Listen. Hurley a great guy and people know it. I am failry certain he’d crush any opponent (yes, even a Jewish female).
    Go for it. Run against him.
    We can all be entertained.
    Hehehee :<]

  12. Lil Carol says:

    Judge Hurley can raise $$ inside and outside of Broward County and he might not need that much with all his tv and newspaper media coverage. People seem to like him and being in the military helps.

    There a much better races if you are going to spend your time and money to run against.

  13. Fake Carl T says:

    Hi Jay. Stop writing about yourself. Carl T…I mean Jay, someone will run against you because you are easy pickins, which translates into last place in a three person race with only 15% of the vote. Very Pathetic Carl, I mean Jay. Can’t wait to be one of the %85 to vote against you because everyone in the legal community knows you do a terrible job.