Levey-Cohen’s Experience Gives Her An Edge


Browardbeat.com was pretty vicious to Mardi Anne Levey Cohen in last year’s election.

That was then.  This is now.

I wanted to build a new relationship with her.  I wanted to clear the air.

So we spent an hour over coffee Friday just talking.


Levey Cohen

I walked out of Barnes & Nobles with new impressions of the candidate:

 Levey Cohen has the experience to win the  2010 judicial race for County Court Group 1. 

 She has an edge in campaign and legal experience over the only other candidate now running.

Campaign experience:

This will be her third race.  She has learned how to campaign — who to call, where to go and what to do.  

Legal experience:

She’s been a prosecutor.  She became one of State Attorney Mike Satz’s supervisors.

She’s been a criminal defense attorney in her own firm.

She’s had more than 50 trials. 

Most important, she’s been a lawyer since Sept., 1987.  She’ll have 23-years experience by next year’s election.

And her only opponent so far for the seat?

I’ve never met lawyer Jeffrey Backman.

He may sparkle with charisma.  He may be a legal genius.

But he’s only been a lawyer since Sept., 2003. He will have seven-years experience by Election Day.

I personally think that before becoming a judge, a lawyer should be required to have 10-years experience, rather than the current five years.

Judges not only need legal experience.  Judges need life experience to make decisions about the lives of people.

That’s why Levey-Cohen’s 23 years as a lawyer, plus the experience of raising two children, beats a seven-year lawyer.  

Despite being light on experience, Backman has a lot going for him.

His father is Circuit Judge Paul Backman.   Lawyers will line up behind his son just to curry favor with the judge.

Also in Backman’s favor:  County Commissioner Ken Keechl just took a job as a partner in the law firm where Jeffrey Backman’s campaign treasurer works.

The firm is Kopelowitz Ostrow.  Backman’s treasurer is Brian Kopelowitz.

I’m sure Keechl   he raised a momentus $230,000-plus for his own re-election in the first three months of the year will tap some of those same contributors for Backman, a friend of his new firm.

The Sun-Sentinel story on Keechl’s new job is here.

It won’t be easy for Levey-Cohen.

There is a lot of talk around the courthouse that she doesn’t have the judicial temperment to be a judge. That she has a temper.

I didn’t see any of that.  Then again, she was obviously on her best behavior with me. 

Levey-Cohen clearly has a big edge in legal and campaign experience.

The experience might be enough.

This third campaign might finally win her a place on the bench.


11 Responses to “Levey-Cohen’s Experience Gives Her An Edge”

  1. The Crystal Ball says:

    Backman will be pushed into another race by Daddy. A third and fourth candidate will enter Group 1. Levey Cohen will end up in a runoff again. Her problem is no money.

  2. yes but says:

    Yes, but what name is she running under this time?

  3. mardi is done says:

    judy stern is running backman’s campaign…game over

  4. Stern is Hot Air says:

    Oh, you mean Judy Stern who managed the campaign of “Judge” Arnie Blostein and “Sheriff” Scott Israel? Stern loses as much as she wins. She’s a big hot air bag.

  5. all in the family says:

    she ran backman’s step mothers campaign, arlene simon campione, this is no shock. Kopelowitz was the money guy behind Scott Israel. Soon enough Chicken Cacciatore will be raising money. There you go, the band is back together

  6. Appoint All Judges says:

    It’s increasingly difficult to make a living practicing law. Some lawyers decide to take their chances and run for judge because it pays decently, offers benefits and is less stressful than having to find clients. All this is understandable. The problem is they can’t run for office in the usual way. They are nearly prohibited from speaking especially since they run non-partisan. So the voters don’t really get a chance to determine which of them would be a good judge. I’m not even sure that the voting public on average understands what it takes to be a good judge. And there’s the ethical pitfalls of raising funds from the lawyer community, because face it who else would fund a judge campaign, and then having to be an independent judge. Now we see all the poor judicial behavior going on. This system does not work well. The better choice is to have judges appointed for terms. This will reduce the politics involved if we create panels to review applicants made up by retired judges selected at random. They can ask the questions that can’t be asked in public, they can do the background checks on temperament that can’t be done in public, this would be a much better way to ensure diversity while ensuring quality on the bench. For each vacancy, they produce a list of three from which the Governor must choose. That is a much better way to ensure a quality judiciary. A rational reappointment process can also be developed using the same randomly selected panels of retired judges. Electing judges is not in Florida’s best interests and that method should be repealed.

  7. Stern Is Hot Air says:

    I can’t believe Judge Backman hired Judy Stern for his son. She has been in front of the state elections commission how many times? She knows no ethical boundaries. Her campaign for Blostein was so dirty that the Broward Bar stepped in. She has so many enemies in the political world that she becomes an issue in a campaign.

  8. Bad Memory says:

    Stern wasn’t the villain in the Blostein campaign (although sheis in most) as it was Blostein on the receiving end of those dirty attacks from Joyce Julian’s campaign …… and I recall it was Sam Fields who wrote those dirty attack pieces. However, Stern has been on the winning and losing end of lots of campaigns.

    But judicial candidates who used Stern and lost include Blostein, Michael Gilfard, Gene Malpas, Carlos Rodriguez, and lots more over the years.

  9. Democrat says:

    Mardi isn’t part of the courthouse ingroup. That’s why she gets so much negative feedback to her candidacy on these blogs. No one can deny that Nevins is right. She has much more experience than her opponent, who must believe a judicial job is a hereditary office.

  10. voter says:

    This race was truly unfair no matter who you supported. In the end a lawsuit decided who would be on the ballot, sounds familiar. I give Mardi alot of credit. She handled this entire charade by her opponent and screw-up by Brenda Snipes with dignity and grace. This certainly shows what type of person she is and how she carries herself through being dragged through the mud by politicans. I for one am greatful the whole thing was put to rest and I hope that she does win this next election. I am not worried about her supposed bad “temperament” I for one have never seen it myself, but she has certainly shown a calm dispsotion through her entire ordeal. That’s what Broward needs… someone who can weather the storm with grace and come out ready to start over.

  11. Scherer is an Ass says:

    Bill Scherer tried to crush Mardi unfarily. He knew the law was on her side. She dared to defy him and run against one of his chosen — Pedro Dijols. Dijols was a nasty judge. Notice everyone that Scherer didn’t hire Dijols or any of the judges who lost the last election. At least, Rothstein gave them a break.