One Less Open Seat To Run For Judge





Veteran Circuit Judge Marc Gold announced Wednesday he is running for re-election.

Gold’s decision closes the Group 44 seat that some judicial hopefuls hoped would be open. Speculation about the seat was intense because Gold didn’t decide to run until this week.

“I only made the decision three days ago,” Gold told

For now, judicial hopefuls will have to run in two already crowded open seats or challenge an incumbent.

“This isn’t good news for (Judge) Raag (Singhal),” one political consultant says.

Singhal is thought to be the one circuit judge particularly likely to get a challenge because of his foreign-sounding name.

Currently open Group 16 has three candidates – Andrea Gundersen, Rhoda Sokoloff and Russell Thompson.  Open Group 17 has two – Julie Shapiro-Harris and Stacey Schulman.

Several other lawyers have made noise about running.

In addition, it was thought that Shapiro-Harris or one of the Group 16 candidates might jump to Gold’s seat if he decided not to run. That opportunity is closed to them now.

Gold won election without a runoff in 1996 against Jonathan Sabghir and Carlos Llorente. Observers say nobody is likely to run against Gold.

When elected, Gold had been in private practice with his wife, Barbara Heyer.  A newspaper article at the time of his election stated he had a doctorate in economics, taught martial arts and lectured on civil rights law.

12 Responses to “One Less Open Seat To Run For Judge”

  1. book it says:

    Julie Shapiro Harris vs Judge Pole
    Rhoda Sokoloff vs Judge Singhal
    Shulman is the Ari Porth of 2014 getting no opposition.
    Judge Levinson, Judge Rosenberg and Judge Feren, one or all get weak opponents from criminal defense lawyers who have ties to the Public Defenders office. These incumbents will be fine and win handily.

  2. Buddy You Suck says:

    Once again you try to stick it to Raag. Just who is this political consultant you are referring too? I am beginning to think you are a racist as you always love to point out that Ragg is at a disadvantage because he isn’t white. Why don’t you write about the need for diversity on the bench or that fact that Raag’s resume blows away everyone else on the bench.

    Buddy you truly suck


    Voting in judicial elections for candidates based on name alone is a fact of life. Just ask Catalina Avalos and others who were defeated largely, according to consultants, because their name was viewed as sounding Spanish.

    I don’t endorse this practice or support it. I have written denouncing it many times. Pointing out the fact that such voting exists does not make me racist.

  3. Wake Up says:

    Buddy has gone out of his way for years to rail against candidates running against sitting Judges for reasons none other than race ethnicity and/or faith. He has recently done so for Judge Singhal.

    Do you seriously think the bottom feeder candidates and political consultants looking for a quick buck have not been sizing up Judge Singhal?

    Buddy’s comments did Judge Singhal a favor, it keeps everyone focused on the fact that he could get a challenge from a bottom feeder and those who support Judge Singhal need to step up, raise him money and show support now. The problem is that people in the legal community don’t understand that putting forth a strong effort between now and qualifying day may dissuade someone from running. Sadly, everyone wants to hold back money and support until after opponent comes out of the woodwork. As wee have seen more times then we care to admit this “after you get an opponent” support can cost a Judge their seat.

  4. Judge Diaz has a spanish name says:

    Hey Buddy did you mention that Judge Diaz would be easily defeated because of his name? I don’t think I ever read anything to that extend on your blog. Catalina Avalos was defeated because she was lackluster and unpopular. It had nothing to do with her Hispanic name.

    You are the one who keeps advertising that he is an easy target over and over again

  5. Real Deal says:

    If we want the best possible judges then we must merit appoint them not elect them. Under existing rules, judges cannot campaign in the traditional sense and are severely limited in what they can say in public.

    There is no perfect way and you can’t take politics out of any human undertaking. But with merit term appointments made by a randomly selected panels of retired judges, based on interviews and the experience of candidates, you’re at least much better assured that those selected will be competent.

    That’s not always been the case before. We’ve had many bad judges elected when their opponents were much more qualified. All of us get cheated when that happens and diversity naturally occurs on the bench when we select based on merit.

    Florida has become a state full of complainers not fixers. That is the core of this problem. We deny ourselves the ability to improve how we govern ourselves and then we complain about the conditions.

  6. Real Deal says:

    Catalina Avalos was neither lackluster or unpopular and during the time she served as a judge she distinguished herself on the basis of her ability. Her opponent who won did so strictly on the strength of the sound of his name. He indeed was lackluster and unknown much less unpopular. You have no idea what that event was all about and Buddy did in fact cover that issue with depth and sensitivity.

  7. Duke says:

    I remember when Diaz first ran in 92 and a lot of so called experts said he had no shot because he was running against a guy named Javitz and there was no way that Diaz could get the Century Village vote and yada yada yada.


    Judge Bob Diaz actually did very well against David Javits, whose cousin was the late U. S. Senate from New York Jacob Javits. He got an amazing vote total of over 271,000, which held the record for vote totals for a judicial candidate for years. He won with 62 percent of the vote, after a win of less than 100 votes in the primary.

    Diaz, having been appointed by Gov.Lawton Chiles in July, 1992 just before the election, had the Democratic machine openly working for him and that meant something back then. His campaign guru and campaign manager was Eddie Kay, the former county Democratic chair.

  8. Idea for Buddy says:

    Dear Buddy why not write about Raag’s popularity with both the State Attorney and Criminal Defense Bar. Why not write about Raag’s distinguished resume? Why not write how wonderful it is that someone who has truly earned their stripes was appointed to the bench?
    Why not mention that Raag has the backing of many influential people who admire his talent?

    Instead you mention his foreign sounding name.


    I agree that Judge Raag Singhal is widely admired for his judicial skills. I agreed he is one of the most qualified judges to reach the bench in recent years. I also note that he doesn’t have an opponent yet…and I hope he doesn’t get one.

    I would encourage everybody to vote for Singhal based on his experience and qualifications.

    That doesn’t change this reality of politics: A large number of voters will cast ballots based solely on their name.

    Numerous political studies have found what I am saying is true.

    Judicial races are low information races. Voters don’t pay attention. They should care, but they don’t. So absent of other information, voters pick the candidate with the pleasant-sounding or friendly-sounding name.

    There are bigots out there who will not vote for a Raag Singhal. And there are political consultants and overly ambitious candidates willing to exploit this. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

    But the Singhal name could be enough to draw a misguided opponent.

  9. Owl says:

    Many Judges are unpopular, and some do very little work. Other Judges work very hard. The point of Buddy’s post is that hard work as a Judge has little to do with getting elected. The fact that Javits challenged Diaz in 1992 supports the fact that targeting of minority Judges existed in 1992 and still today.

    In 2008, three minority Judges lost campaigns, but two of them were not considered good Judges. One was an excellent Judge but still lost. The point is that likely none of the three would have even had opposition had they not been minority. Indeed, there were and are several other Judges who did not get opponents who probably deserved them.

    Judge Singhal is a great Judge. He treats both sides fairly, is knowledgable and on time. He has also sat as a Judge on the Fourth District Court of Appeals. He is hard working and bright. If he gets an opponent, it will only be because he is a minority.

    On the other hand, one of the sitting Judges now has been arrested for DUI twice, but she will probably not get an opponent. That Judge has issues but people don’t care.

    As Buddy knows, it’s a popularity contest. It’s just that the popularity isn’t based on what should be important.

  10. Just The Facts says:

    Sources report, Rhoda Sokoloff, will be dropping out of the race, can’t raise money, and has multiple ethics complaints, with the bar.

  11. Mike Sats says:

    Buddy’s argument at #8 is another reason why judges should be appointed and not elected. The judges who were chosen by the JNC and then the governor have been better judges and more qualified than those elected. Judge Singhal was appointed and he could have never been elected for an open seat.

  12. ziggy says:

    outside of the DUI that sitting judge is a fine judge and a great person.