Some Judicial Races Will Get New Female Candidates


Lawyers John Robert Howes or Jason Allen Rosner shouldn’t celebrating yet.

When Jeffrey Backman dropped out of the Broward County Court Group 1 race, it left them the only candidates.

For the time being.

In the political musical chairs that will take place this week, watch for someone else to jump into the race.  When the music stops at noon Friday, filing closes and everybody finds a seat, I expect a female candidate will be campaigning for Group 1.

Why? It is assumed in politics that when there is one female in a race against two males, the female has an advantage.

Olga Levine and Rhonda Sokoloff are both running against circuit judges who have the built-in support that incumbency creates.  Would one of them rather switch to the Group 1 and run for an open seat against relative unknowns?

Heidi Berkowitz is in a three-way race for Group 13.  She is one of two challengers trying to throw out County Judge Linda Raspolich Pratt.

Melissa Minsk Donoho is in a race against the formidable County Judge Jay Hurley.  Is she looking for another seat to run in?

Also, keep an eye on County Court Group 20, where former state Rep. Ken Gottlieb and lawyer Steven Schaet are vying for an open seat. This one is ripe for a female candidate, too.

A newcomer who hasn’t surfaced yet could file.  Right Howard?

Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, who’s office has five judicial candidates already running, says: “I have no knowledge of anybody new in my office running.”

He quickly added: “I could be surprised at the last minute.”

Finkelstein’s only requirement is that an assistant public defender tells him before filing for office. If they want to stay on the PD’s payroll, they have to have 10 years experience if they run.

“They have to be experienced enough to hold down their job and run for office. That takes at least 10 years,” he says.

“I don’t endorese judicial candidates from my own office…I’m only telling my people that if they file against a qualified minority judge, I will be speaking against that,” Finkelstein says.

Finkelstein also says he will be giving speeches against other inexperienced lawyers running against more experienced incumbents.

With filing closing on Friday at noon, watch for all the jockeying in the judicial races this week.

17 Responses to “Some Judicial Races Will Get New Female Candidates”

  1. Verteran says:

    Last I checked, Olga Levine had dropped out of the county #26 slot and filed against Judge Luzzo in circuit.

    Thanks for pointing this out. You are absolutely right. I was using an old list I printed out and forgot about Levine’s switch. The post now reflects it.

  2. Lady Law says:

    Howard Finkelstein is now the self-appointed king maker of the Broward courthouse. I much rather have the late Tony G., who didn’t have a bias towards the defense or the prosecution.

  3. Hurley Fan says:

    She can’t beat Jay!!!!! Jay Hurley is a fine and fair judge who deserves the support of everybody.

  4. former p,d, says:

    gotta agree. no matter how you slice it she aint beat’n hurley no way no how not in this life or the next. all the smoke that spechler blows up her backside aint changing the landscape. she should start look’n and look’n fast.

  5. Deby Weinstein says:

    Judge Hurley is the most qualified judge on the county bench. Although relatively new, he has saved Broward county millions of dollars by allowing non-violent offenders reasonable terms for release. While many complain that they see Judge Hurley on TV all the time, this is because of the high profile cases that come before him. When husband’s stop killing their wifes, school teachers stop sleeping with their students, and scum-bag felons stop beating cops, you will see Hurley disappear from the woodwork.

  6. sunny skies shady people says:

    Judge Hurley is a vital asset to the people Broward County! We need more like him.

  7. No Nonsense says:

    Looks like this blog is brought to you by Hurley the Clown

  8. Switching Races says:

    Buddy: you ought to do a piece on switching races. This is not about “Hey, I think this judge has to go or I really want to be a County Judge”, it’s about the elements that are a bit sketchy.

    Like your previous piece where Howard denounced what appears to be people running in races to take advantage of surname assumptions, this switching of races says something about candidates too.

    Oh yea, it’s Olga Gonzalez-Levine. Didnt we have someone last cycle or cycle before who played with their last name to assist at with voter booth dynamics?

  9. Watch Luzzo Repimand says:


    You should do a story with a video link to the Supreme Courts reprimand of Judge Luzzo for accepting tickets to sporting events over a three year period from lawyers who were appearing before him.

  10. admin says:

    Here is the Luzzo transcript:

  11. Throwing stones says:

    If anyone thinks the reprimand is going to have legs they may want to be careful of the door they are opening.

    Last I checked Help Me Howard did a lot worse, may have been disbarred for a bit for crashing his car into cop car with a briefcase full of drugs. My point is not to smear Howard but to remind everyone that people make mistakes. In light of the mistakes in recent history by Ana Gardiner, Dale Cohen, Larry Korda, Larry Seidlin, Judge Levenson, Judge Aleman, are the people really going to care about taking sports tickets a couple of times where there was never an allegation that by taking those tickets he went for or against anyone.

    Luzoo made a mistake, owned up to it and in over 25 years on the bench has had no other issue. If this is the worst that can be said, he is much better off than most.

  12. Former Hurley Fan says:

    I liked Hurley when I first heard about him. After reading about him lying about whose endorsements he had I became concerned. I read the other new times articles and it’s clear Judge Hurley has problems with the truth. I am going to skip this on the ballot.

    Hurley actually said Public Defender Howard Finkelstein “supported” him. He never said he was endorsed by Finkelstein.

    The public defender publicly said he couldn’t understand why anybody was challenging such “a fine judge” as Hurley, which is support as far as I’m concerned.

  13. Question says:

    “I like Jay,” said Finkelstein. “He’s a nice guy who’s doing a good job, as best I can tell.

    Sounds pretty neutral…”doing a good job, as best I can tell”

    vb (tr)
    7. to give approval to (a cause, principle, etc.); subscribe to to support a political candidature

    en·dorse (n-dôrs) also in·dorse (n)
    4. To give approval of or support to, especially by public statement; sanction: endorse a political candidate. See Synonyms at approve.

    So what is the difference between ehdorse and support? Either way Jay didnt have it from Ceaser or Finkelstien and lied when he said he did.


    Finkelstein made a much stronger statement when he talked to me months ago. Here is what I wrote on on January 16:

    Public Defender Howard Finkelstein is saying nice things about the judge.

    “Judge Hurley has treated my clients fairly,” said Finkelstein, who defends the poor. “He has treated my clients fairly, equally and with dignity.”

    When an assistant public defender asked about running against Hurley last year, Finkelstein waved him off.

    “I believe people should only run if it improves the bench. I think Hurley is already doing a fine job,” Finkelstein said.

    I have no idea about Mitch Ceasar, but I highly doubt that the chairman of the Broward Democratic Party gave a Republican his support.

    If Judge Hurley is telling folks that Ceasar and Finkelstein support him, he is probably wrong about Ceasar. Finkelstein on surely gave the impression to me and others that he is supporting Hurley.

  14. Question says:

    Sure looks like Howard has taken a step back from that glowing review in January in his recent New Times interview. Having a guy claims he supports/endorses you when you didnt give permission to do so can be aggitating. Especially upsetting to the PD’s running for Judge that were in the crowd that heard Hurley claim their boss supported him yet they didnt feel they had the right to claim the support themselves.

  15. Tyronne Steele says:

    Not that I want to say nice things about Hurley but he allowed family members to speak at a bail hearing on my cousin. After hearing from his mother and sisters, my cousin had his bond reduced quite a bit. If I could vote, I would vote for Hurley.

  16. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    I’d vote for Hurley if his first name was Elizabeth.

    Otherwise, NIMBY.

  17. Broward Lawyer says:

    So far Levine filed against Luzzo, Minsk filed against Hurley and no other big surprises. While it is early, none of your speculation has come true.