Court Justices Monitor Races For Judge As One Degenerates Into Debate Over Cop Shooting




Florida’s Supremes made it very clear in 2002:

“…conduct that substantially misleads the voting public and interferes with its right to make a knowing and intelligent decision as to a judicial candidate’s qualifications will simply not be tolerated in selecting members of the judiciary.”

The Florida Supreme Court is serious about ethical judicial elections.

Very serious. 

Justices threw Palm Beach County Judge Dana Marie Santino off the bench this summer for misrepresenting her opponent’s experience during the 2016 election. She said, among other things, that the opponent’s legal experience was questionable because he defended “murderers, rapists, child molesters and other criminals.” 



Candidates for judge need to be extra careful when campaigning because they are governed by a judicial Code of Ethics.  

The problem is that many judicial candidates are political novices.  They can be unduly influenced by their political consultants.  

Judicial candidates need to remember: 

Your consultant will never have to face the Supreme Court for stepping over the ethical line. 

You will!

In Santino’s case the consultant was the well-known “Richard Giorgio (“Giorgio”) the vice-president, treasurer and director of Patriot Games, Inc. (“Patriot Games”), who came highly recommended, as campaign consultant. Santino’s campaign paid $143,453.01 to Patriot Games: $23,500 for campaign management (about $5,000 per month) and approximately $120,000 for campaign costs,” according to the investigative report to the Supreme Court. 

Giorgio ran the campaign, which used an electioneering communication organization (ECO) and Facebook to attack Santino’s opponent Gregg Lerman. He had 32 years of trial experience, most in criminal court. 

Santino used Lerman’s experience against him.  

She said Lerman made “a lot of money trying to free Palm Beach County’s worth criminals.” One ad featured a picture of Lerman surrounded b y the words “Identity Theft,” “RAPE,” “Sexual Assault,” “PEDOPHILES”….

You get the picture. And it worked since Santino won. 

But she went too far and the seat on the bench she fought for was taken away. 

The campaign was unethical, the Supremes ruled.

“…Santino attacked Constitutional guarantees, violated the Canons, and not only damaged her opponent’s chances of winning the election, but she also damaged the public’s perception of the fairness and integrity of the judiciary,” investigators reported to the Supremes, who accepted the findings. 

Supremes didn’t like the attack the right of those charged with a crime to a defense. 

In addition, some of the statements were false. Lerman never made “a lot of money” because he was a low-paid court appointed attorney in some cases.


Problem In Broward?


Now flash forward to 2018 to Broward Circuit Court’s Group 39 race.

Candidate Camille Coolidge-Shotwell recently accused her opponent Susan Lynn Alspector of misleading a group of black ministers.  


Camille Coolidge-Shotwell


We’ve got the video below. 

In the video, Shotwell says her opponent followed her to the podium in a meeting of the ministers and said: 

“What Ms. Shotwell is not telling you is she is married to a police officer who was involved in an officer-involved shooting…He was investigated and cleared by the Grand Jury.The system works for them, but for you I’m not so sure.”

If Shotwell is recounting the comments accurately, does Alspector have a problem with the judicial ethics folks?

Not only would those comments be an attack on the judicial process, but they would be an odious attempt to use the race card!

Just because the audience consisted of black ministers doesn’t mean they are predisposed against police officers. 

Here is the real story of the shooting from various media sources: 

Fort Lauderdale Detective Mark Shotwell, the candidate’s husband, was involved in a shooting in the parking lot of an Irish tavern in July, 2014. 

An off duty waitress approached Detective Shotwell as he left the bar.  She had just been hit her eye by her boyfriend, who was drunk and carrying a gun. 

She knew Detective Shotwell as a regular at the pub and went to him for protection. 

“I got behind him because I felt safe,” the waitress told the Grand Jury. “I didn’t want to get hit again.”

When Shotwell approached her boyfriend, immediately pulled his gun and shot Shotwell. The detective returned the fire.

If Shotwell is recounting the comments accurately, does her opponent Alspector have a problem with the judicial ethics folks? 

The Supremes have made it very clear that you can’t lie or mislead yourself into office. 

Alspector’s comments may not rise to the threshold of an ethical violation. But she and other candidates for judge must walk a narrow line. 

The public demands judges who are fair, have integrity and tell the truth.  

And candidates must always remember: The Supremes are watching!



 Click on the video below of candidate Shotwell and see her accusing her opponent of misrepresentation:




13 Responses to “Court Justices Monitor Races For Judge As One Degenerates Into Debate Over Cop Shooting”

  1. Lone Ranger says:

    So, a judicial candidate deliberately leaves out pertinent facts during a speech for political expediency….sounds like Susan Alspector has an integrity issue and should issue a complete retraction and apology to her audience, her opponent Camille Coolidge, Mark Shotwell and all of law enforcement who put their lives on the line every single day. Not sure how anyone could consider voting for SA.
    “No bueno – kemosabe”

  2. Nothing to see here says:

    I understand why shotwell felt compelled to tell her husband’s story. She wanted to set the record straight. Fine. But why did she say, at the end of her presentation, that she would always be there for that community and if anything goes wrong they should call her when she’s a judge and she will show up to help???

    A lot of the candidates make these kind of promises. They say that they will change the system and fix problems in the court system, and one even says he will be instrumental in re-working technology used in the courts, this simply isn’t the job of a judge. Judge’s are not politicians, they can’t make promises to change anything, they can’t be proactive and can’t show up to help out a community like Shotwell claims. It’s pure BS. And a Judge cannot singlehandedly fix the justice system, it’s not their job. Updating the technology used in the court system, which by the way is updated and a model for the technology being updated around the state, is not a judge’s job. So why are the Judicial candidates making these promises?? Is it for votes, or because they don’t understand the role of a judge?

    And lastly, why do the candidates love to attack the sitting judges? Why must they denigrate the sitting judges, claiming they are not proficient in their work, or lack knowledge of civil matters or complex litigation, or are nasty people? How does attacking the judiciary help them win their election? The candidates would make better use of their 2 minutes by talking about how they will be effective, proficient, neutral arbiters, and less time talking about judges that they perceive to be ill-prepared or unfriendly. That might be a discussion for another time and place. But attacking the existing judiciary shows that the candidate is negative in thinking and has nothing important to say about themselves in their 2 minute allotted time.

    Just my opinion.

  3. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    These atty. seeking an elected judgeship they got it rough.They have to be very careful in their approach.My take.These atty. seeking to be an elected judge.You are an atty.first.You can’ t minimize or insult fellow attys.say for the clients they represent etc.You also have to stay neutral with hot button issues as in abortion, gun control etc.Be careful.One issue say i would have say for instance with Atty.Shotwell being that your husband is in law enforcement and say her husband makes an arrest and then you go before his wife presiding over your case.Not so fast.See the conflict.No disrespect to this couple but you can’ t have it both ways.One would assume.if elected Mrs.Shotwell would recuse herself but one never knows.Also recently had a civil case and opposing atty.had publicly endorsed sitting judge.I stated to friend motion for mistrial.Well it wasn’ t Christmas in July etc but another judge was assigned case.My friend was tickled pink because he was not the plantiff but the defendant.Bought him more time.So object sometimes is delay, delay , delay as in he didn.t have to cut a check.In other words he lived for another day.Im not Houdini, but if the object is to get from point A to B.I got you covered…

  4. Harris S. T. says:

    Dect Shotwell is not the candidate. His impact on his wife is relevant, but nothing else. A break from the Grand Jury, even if true, has nothing to do with picking a judge and nothing to do with his wife.
    Alspector should stick to saying why she would make a better judge.

  5. Legal Beagle says:

    It is hard to campaign for judge and find things to talk about to audiences because you are forbidden from discussing issues. That doesn’t excuse attacking your opponent or his family with false accusations. Susan Alspector should be ashamed.

  6. Who do you trust says:

    I have the following questions for Camille Coolidge-Shotwell.

    1: Why would the “off duty waitress” go to the defunct Maguires Hill 16 Irish Pub and Eatery for police services?

    2: If the “off duty waitress” was in such fear of her life why didn’t she dial 911 on her cell phone, giving her location to get immediate police response or drive to FLPD at 1300 W Broward Blvd?

    3: What was Detective Mark Shotwell BAC? Was Detective Mark Shotwell BAC testing performed?

    4: Why would Assistant State Attorney Brian Cavanagh the lead Homicide Prosecutor in the 17th Circuit and a witness to the shooting make a statement to the press prior to completion of any formal investigation?

    5: What involvement or influence did Camille Coolidge-Shotwell have in directing this matter, after all it involves “friends and family”.

    6: What were Detective Mark Shotwell on duty work hours?

    7: Assistant State Attorney Brian Cavanagh statement to the press, how cloudy was his vision that evening?


    But is any of this an issue in a judicial race?

  7. Super Voter says:

    I can tell you who I don’t trust:
    –I don’t trust a judicial candidate who tries to mislead African American Pastors.
    — I don’t trust a judicial candidate that is being escorted by a sitting judge to campaign events (judges are not allowed to be political)
    –I don’t trust the above poster who sounds like Ms. Coolidge-Shotwell’s opponent.
    –And MOST importantly I don’t trust Camille Coolidge Shotwell’s opponent.
    Which is why I am anxiously awaiting my absentee ballot so I can vote for Ms. Coolidge-Shotwell and other highly qualified candidates for Judge.

  8. Las Olas Lawyer says:

    I agree with Legal Beagle (5) that Susan Alspector should be ashamed of herself.

  9. zigy says:

    I would like to respond to who do you trust. brien cavanugh did not witness the incident, he was inside, he had no part in presenting this case to the grand jury, I was there that night and I wouyld add those who were there are very thankful for det shotwells actions, the mental sate of the exfelon with the pistol who knows what carnage he would have done if he got in the bar also this has little ty do with a judicial election, vote on their merits……

  10. Super Voter says:

    Thank you Zigy for your candor. It is but one quality of a good judge and Camille Coolidge-Shotwell will be a great judge.

  11. SAM FIELDS says:


    There is no such a thing as an “off duty” cop.

    They may not be on their “shift” but they are always on duty.

    On the wall in my living room is the front page of the July 11, 1946 Long Island Press.

    A story titled HEROES IN MURDER CHASE is about my father then a patrolmen in the NYPD.

    He was coming out of the movies with my mother when some armed robbers were fleeing from a bar and grill they had just robbed— during the course of which they shot a patron who later died.

    My “off duty” father commandeered a civilian’s car and commenced a chase through the streets of Queens like Gene Hackmen in the French Connection.

    When he finally caught up with them they had shot a traffic cop.

    He then emptied his revolver into the criminals in their getaway car killing and wounding two of them.

    Any cop who does not understand that he is on duty 24/7/365 needs to have his badge taken away

    Shotwell did the right thing

  12. Super Voter says:

    Thank you to your father for his service as one of NYPD’s finest. He sounds like a true hero.

    Anyone familiar with Mark Shotwell’s case knows that he almost died and he acted heroically.

    I think it’s clear that “Who do you trust” is Camille Coolidge-Shotwell’s opponent.
    Her campaign is desperate and has lowered itself to misleading African American clergy.

  13. KB says:

    Interesting facts (makes for a great ad but it’s not permitted by candidates running for judge) at the end of the day we must vote for whom we think is the best candidate. I’m not sold on either Shotwell or Alspector but I will be voting for one or the other.Thank God for officer Shotwell that he was able to protect the lady and he survived being shot at point blank range.