Open Judicial Seat Draws Third Candidate



Its not everyday that a judge retires.

So when longtime Circuit Judge Mel Grossman announced his retirement, it was like throwing chum in the ocean: The sharks quickly gathered.

Grossman’s soon-to-be open seat has already drawn three sharks, eh, judicial candidates: Andrea Gundersen, Russell Miller Thompson and Rhoda Sokoloff. 

I expect more.

Gundersen is the latest to open a candidate’s account, filing earlier this month.

Who is Gundersen?

Here is the description for the post she authored earlier this year:

“Andrea R. Gundersen is an AV rated Marital & Family Law attorney and a Certified Family Mediator with more than 20 years experience.  She has an office in Fort Lauderdale.”

Her race will be managed by veteran judicial campaign manager David Brown, who last cycle helped elect Michael Ian Rothschild a circuit judge.

Who are the other candidates?

Thompson is a Davie personal injury attorney.

He kicked in $150,000 of his own money right off the bat. He has $1,000 in other contributions, including an $85 in-kind contribution from Stuart Michaelson, former city attorney of Sunrise and husband of former County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman.

Thompson’s campaign will be handled by Michael Ahearn, a lawyer and political strategist who ran Circuit Judge Dale Ross’s re-election last year.

Sokoloff is a family law attorney who has run at least two previous judicial races. She opened her campaign with $10,000 of her own.

Roughly 125,000 will vote in the 2014 primary for judge based on past performance in an off-year election.  That means it will cost a lot to really communicate a memorable message.

So most judicial candidates will be unable to communicate much with the majority of voters.   Most ballots will be cast by voters knowing little about a candidate except their name.

You can judge whether Gundersen, Sokoloff or Thompson are more likely to win votes based on name alone.  And those aren’t the only candidates likely to be in this race.

Maybe Stacey Schulman, a lawyer with an impressive resume who has talked about running and can self-finance her campaign?

Let the fun begin.


* I welcome posts from candidates. Just write me at

11 Responses to “Open Judicial Seat Draws Third Candidate”

  1. Courthouse Observer says:

    There is another open seat with only Julie Shapiro Harris running in it. Everybody is scared of Julie since her husband is Barry Harris, a Democratic Party bigshot.

  2. Coral Springs Democrat says:

    Shapiro Harris almost beat Rothchild. That’s why candidates are “scared” of her. Only the uninformed would believe that Barry Harris can control one vote.

  3. Paul Gougelman says:

    Julie Shapiro Harris has established herself as a candidate to be reckoned with. For example, in 2012 she ran against Michael Rothschild, son of a longtime, popular circuit judge. One would have expected Mr. Rothschild to have easily beaten Shapiro Harris. However, it ended up being a very close race. She lost by slightly over 52,000 to 50,000.

    She is an attorney working for popular Clerk of Court Howard Forman, and you can bet she’ll have backing from a number of respected county elected officials. If you don’t believe me, wait and see.

    While there are some who may not agree with her husband, Barry Harris, he has been successful in helping a number of people get elected to office over the years. He obviously has some understanding of Broward politics, and you can fault a guy for standing by his wife. In this era of instant divorces, we should give credit to any spouse who is ready to go to the mat for his or her spouse.

    So, people who want to get elected as a circuit judge should have every bit of concern about getting into a race with Shapiro Harris. But what is perhaps more important is that she will probably make a good judge. She is not some sort of young wannabe who is too busy tripping over her own ego. My observation is that while she is firm but fair, her strongest attributes are compassion and a readiness to be a good listener. Good attributes for a judge.

    So, some one may decide to pick this race to run against Shapire Harris, but as a long time observer of politics around the state, I wouldn’t recommend it.

  4. A Bloodsucker says:

    I believe any divorce attorney like Gundersen is disqualified from being a judge because she is unable to see both sides of a case. She is not an advocate. Divorce lawyers like her are blood suckers who will keep the acrimonious feelings between the parties alive to run up fees and enrich themselves. I hope every person who was on the other side of a divorce from Gundersen tells the true tale of this woman. Let her prove she can listen to both sides before voting for her.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Julie Harris is a highly qualified candidate with lots of support. Her background is in domestic violence an area not so easy, which she has mastered. I wish her the best.

  6. Barry Harris Talabisco says:

    Now that the Talabisco trial is back on with Barry Harris a potential witness in the case, does Julue run with the last name of Harris or Shapiro?

  7. Yo says:

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, Ahearn.

  8. Mister Courthouse says:

    This is another example of why judges should be appointed. Not one of the three belong on the bench. Nor does Julie Harris. Raymond Burr probably had more trial experience than all of them combined.

  9. Samantha Fitzgerald says:

    I’ve known Andrea Gundersen for many years and she will make a fine judge. Andrea’s ethical standards are a cut above the rest. She’s extremely devoted to her clients, her family and the community. Andrea is very knowledgeable on the law and I believe she will be a fair and impartial judge.

  10. Jamerican says:

    Andrea Gundersen even though not known for years but with the current case involving a child. She is an advocate for the client but most importantly is looking out for the best interest of the child in this case. Her knowledge of the law is incredible and with her experience it speaks for itself. The accolades that has been given shows someone that is devoted to the clients she represents and the community at large. She will be impartial and exemplify what a judge should be.

  11. Cowinkidink says:

    Wow all these pro Gunderson posts remind me of when articles have appeared on this blog about Steve Geller when he ran against Gunzberger, Franklin Sands and Nora Ruppert when out of nowhere people in the community find their way onto Browardbeat to praise them. I wonder if any of them have anything in common?