Judges Have No Opponent, But Still Raise Thousands From Attorneys

BY BUDDY NEVINS

The Florida Code of Judicial Conduct is very clear: A judge shall avoid “the appearance of impropriety in all of the judge’s activities.”

Yet judges are allowed to raise thousands from the very lawyers who appear before them. 

Isn’s that the appearance of impropriety?

Take Broward Circuit Judge Charles “Charlie” M. Greene. Since Nov. 1, Greene raised $73,662 although he has no opponent. 

Almost every dime came from lawyers, law firms, mediators and businesses connected to lawyers.  More than 40 contributions were $1,000, the maximum. 

Broward Circuit Judge Charles M. Greene

Let me make this crystal clear:  Greene is doing nothing wrong. 

Greene has a history of high rolling campaigns dating back to 1990 when the young 34-year-old prosector was first elected.  That year he set an all-time Broward record of judicial campaigning spending  — $209,957, which included $185,000 of his own. 

The judge plays by the rules of Florida judicial elections. But are the rules rotten?

Maybe judges should recuse themselves from any case involving a contributor. See how much money they raise then?

There is no law or decision requiring a judge recuse themselves. In fact, decisions allow attorneys appear in the courtroom of a judge they financially supported.  

Greene is not the only unopposed judge raising money. Broward Circuit Judge Tarlika Navarro, actually raised more than Greene. She has $78,986 in donations and put $100,000 of her own money into the campaign.  

Navarro, another former prosecutor who also for a time was in private practice, was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2018

Broward Circuit Judge Tarlika Navarro

I know. I know.

The common wisdom is that incumbents should have boatloads of money in their campaigns to scare away any opponent.

Does anybody really believe that Broward is bereft of lawyers who could write a check tomorrow for six figures to mount a challenge to Greene or Navarro? All the incumbents’ money guarantees nothing.

There are several incumbent judges without opponents who have raised much less, if anything.  Broward Circuit Judge Dennis Bailey has $100 in his campaign despite having an opponent, George Odom Jr., who raised $15,265.

The bottom line on all of this:  If you have a case, check the judge’s contribution records before hiring an attorney. Then hire someone who gave money to the judge. 

It can’t hurt.

Judges will say they aren’t influenced by contributions. 

Maybe they aren’t.

But I have never met a judge who doesn’t keep close tabs on contributions during a campaign. 



5 Responses to “Judges Have No Opponent, But Still Raise Thousands From Attorneys”

  1. Courthouse Maven says:

    Honest judges should self fund. Most have enough money.

  2. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    The old saying ” pay to play”.So if u give these judicial canidates money esp.other attorneys is troubling.So the more u give($) the more favorable your outcome will be.Thats fair justice I think not.I can remember going before a judge in a civil matter where I discovered the opposing atty.gave money to the presiding judge.Judge turned every color under the rainbow.Opposing money bags atty called for a short recess( u bet he did) and we settled ($). That was a nice day.Beat a slum- Lord any day of the week.My point it’s apparent that this notion that if u give these judges or attys running for judge that they will remember u( why else would u give money).This while play to pay is rampant not only with judicial canidates but those seeking city/ county/State elections.This is where I can resonate.If I plan on running from anything from mayor to dog catcher I will not take one dime.Run on your balls( merits) people.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The only people hated worse than lawyers are fat know-nothing bloggers.

    FROM BUDDY:

    If you are referring to me, I certainly am not “fat.”

  4. Las Olas Lawyer says:

    They are both good judges and that should be the only thing that counts.

  5. Stormwatch says:

    Buddy, what happens to the money if they retire or just don’t use it? I hear Judge Feld gave Legal Aid $5000 that was left-over from her campaign fund. So what will Judge Green do with the 76K? Probably what most other judges do. Pocket it.

    FROM BUDDY:

    Judges can not legally “pocket” any campaign money. Any money remaining in their campaign must be returned pro rata to each contributor, donated to a charity or similar non-profit or used in other strictly prescribed ways.

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