The Kid From Queens Runs Again: Weinstein Wants To Be Chief Judge


I’ve never been in Broward Circuit Judge Peter Weinstein’s courtroom, but I watched him at work for years in another venue the state Capitol.

I covered Weinstein for many years when he was a state senator.  Or should I say, a great state senator.

Now it’s déjà vu, a flashback to all those past Weinstein campaigns I reported on.

Weinstein is running again for chief judge.

Broward Chief Judge Vic Tobin is stepping down in February.   Weinstein is stepping up.

JAAblog, the courthouse blog, first reported this news. It stated that “the word on the street is he’s already got the votes.   

Weinstein told me about his prospects: “I have had a good response.

His opponent appears to be Family Court Judge Susan Greenhawt.

The 90 Broward judges elect their own chief.

Weinstein is a perfect fit for chief judge, which I equate to herding cats.

Being the head of 90 raging egos in black robes is not an easy job.  Neither is accomplishing anything in the state Senate.

Weinstein was remarkably successful in the state senate because he was a consensus builder.  This Jewish kid from Queens made friends in unexpected places, such as among the conservative Pork Choppers of North Florida.

That’s how he passed laws that cracked down on travel agent fraud, increased regulation of adult congregate living facilities and auto repair shops and made it easier to conduct child abuse investigations. That is only four of dozens of bills from the productive Sen. Weinstein.

The same traits that made him successful in the Senate will serve the judiciary well if he is elected chief judge. I found him to be bright and most of all, affable.

Elected in the giant shakeup of 1982* caused by reapportionment, Weinstein never held public office before.  He was a Brooklyn Law School graduate (Class of 1970) and an assistant District Attorney in Queens before moving to Florida in 1977.

Once he took office, Weinstein quickly became a leader in the state Senate.

He was the first member of the Broward Class of 1982 to head a major committee.  He was named chairman of Senate Judiciary-Criminal after only three years in the Senate. 

He was elected by his Democratic colleagues to be Senate Majority Leader in 1990-92.

He left the Senate to run for Congress in 1996, losing to former U. S. Rep. Robert Wexler.   His loss was not surprising since it was largely a Palm Beach seat.

Gov. Lawton Chiles appointed Weinstein a judge a year later, in August, 1997.

“I’m running on my experience, Weinstein said.  “I have been a judge for 13 years.

He served about 10 years on the criminal bench.  He has been in civil court for the past three years.

There are a lot of judges with experience, but Weinstein has a big advantage others can’t duplicate:

His political past connects him to the centers of power that are so important to funding the judiciary and building a new courthouse. He is known and liked by the county commission and in the state Capital.

I have nothing against Greenhawt.  I don’t know the woman

On resumes alone, she can’t match Weinstein.  A former nurse who graduated Nova Southeastern law in 1993, Greenhawt had a family law practice when she was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush in May, 2003.

I don’t have a vote.  Only judges do.

From the outside looking in, the choice appears clear to me Weinstein.


*Others elected for the first time to the Legislature from Broward in 1982 were state Reps. Tom Armstrong,D-Plantation; Bill Clark,D-Lauderdale Lakes; Peter Deutsch, D-Sunrise; Anne Mackenzie,D-Fort Lauderdale; Debby Sanderson, R-Fort Lauderdale; Bob Shelley, R-Pompano Beach; Joe Titone, D-Coral Springs and Jack Tobin, D-Margate.  Tom McPherson, D-Fort Lauderdale, was elected to a Senate seat in 1982 after 12 years in the House. Weinstein was a Democrat from Coral Springs.

19 Responses to “The Kid From Queens Runs Again: Weinstein Wants To Be Chief Judge”

  1. A closer look says:

    One thing you didn’t cover and it is a concern for many judges are the people backing Greenhawt.
    Its the old gang trying to control by proxy.
    Once that fact hit the gossip circuit, Greenhawt was toast.

    FROM BUDDY: I did hear that rumor. This post was mostly about Weinstein, since I know him. I’m sure I’ll write others about the race.

  2. Kevin tynan says:

    Buddy – Wasn’t Bob Shelley a Republican also?

    FROM BUDDY: Absolutely. I added the party designation of all the lawmakers mentioned.

  3. Mr. Courthouse says:

    Peter Weinstein is an upstanding judge who will make a fine chief judge. He will bring reason and calm back to the courthouse, ending the factional bickering between judges. As one who practices in the courthouse regularly, I applaud him for agreeing to serve.

  4. wrong says:

    weinstein is the old faction. he has “nhi” Greene and “make my son a judge, bff w/ gardiner” Backman trying to steamroll him thru
    Greenhawt has shown she works and gets along with old and new, she is the administrative judge for tobin in family and her ja worked for lynch considered the ross side. How about that for reaching out to both sides of the aisle.

  5. just curious says:

    if he left the senate in 1996, haven’t all the folks that were there when he was there term limited out at this point?
    and as far as the county commission goes, a portion of them may be appearing in front of him soon in shackles and a jumpsuit.
    FROM BUDDY: True, the senators have left, but his knowledge of the system from the inside gives him an advantage. He also gets added access to staff and lawmakers because they respect a former member of the Senate, which is one of Florida’s most exclusive institutions.

  6. James says:

    Backman is a very good judge would make a great chief judge.

  7. Bob Adams says:

    A “great” senator?? What Peter Weinstein were you watching? He was a lazy do-nothing fatcat Tallahassee insider and a darling of the lobbyists!!

  8. Jerry W says:

    ANYBODY but Tobin!!!!!!

  9. disenchanted says:

    sorry buddy, i have to agre with senor adams, peter is a waffler, can never make up his mind, nice guy but indecisive.

  10. Broward Lawyer says:

    The cthse needs leadership, weinstein is not it.

  11. S Fields says:

    Judge Weinstein would make a great chief judge. I’ve tried several cases with him and found him knowledgeable and not at all a waffler, as 1:21 p.m. said.

    This is not Sam Fields, the attorney who writes guest columns for

  12. dvc says:

    Well here we go again, as you, Buddy, and others wail against corruption in Broward County in general, Tamarac spefically, another eldction cycle, judicial and otherwise, runs the course corrupted by bribes and palm cards.
    Oh well.

  13. watcher says:

    leadership is it…will our leader be able to make his fellow judges be sensible, show up on time and recognize an emergency…a jefe should notice burnout and deal with it…i know its herding cats but whomever it is will hear how’s he’s doing here i bet

  14. Las Olas Law says:

    Judge Weinstein is a pleasant individual and that should be the most important trait of a chief judge. We’ve had enough dictators in that office, i.e., the past two chiefs.
    Remember that the job really has very little authority, other than being the face of the courthouse. It is time we had a smiling face.

  15. Greenhawt BAD says:

    Who would want GREENHAWT Judge?
    There’s a theme…. see a few of the comments on the web:

    1. Discrimination against pro se litigants. Nasty, arrogant and unethical.

    2. This judge makes decisions arbitrarily based on her prejudices, and then finds the legal justification for her decisions so as to avoid the appearance of prejudging. Known to be lesbian and anti-male. Her demeanor is pretty much “I could care less”, no matter how long it takes.

    3. She is biased against men and favors those involved or being represented by the alternative lifestyle. Men if you are going through a divorce and this is your judge, you need to make sure that your attorney is one of her cronies, otherwise you do not stand a chance.

    4. This judge has been reprimanded for allowing expert testimony in her court by paramour. This judge exercises gross favoritism with her preferred lawyers and also has close social affiliations with same lawyers. This judge decides cases without hearing both sides and listens to favorite attorneys outside of hearings. This judge makes unnecessary and revealing commentarys both in and out of settings.

    5. My experience with this Judge is almost identical to the gentleman in one of the previous reviews, however, I’m a woman. My ex-husband’s attorney is a lesbian, whom I’ve been told has a personal relationship with this Judge. Since this attorney has been defending my ex, I might as well not appear in court! The Judge fails to follow the Civil Rules of Procedure, ordered child support without guidelines, and after swearing me in to “tell the truth” under God she told me I should have lied to my insurance company. After this incident, I requested a transcript and found out there is no electronic recording of the hearings in her chambers. Her impartiality is not only against men, but against anyone who stands against one of her “favored” attorneys.

    6.I sat after out case and listened to several more. Her rulings were inconsistent and made no sense. Once she made up her mind (which was pretty fast) she tuned out whatever the litigants said. I felt sorry for the pro se litigants, she had a very arrogant and dismissive attitude toward everyone.

    7. Judge Greenhawt has been repeatedly rude to some litigants and attorneys. She has appeared in cases I’ve observed to strongly favor her cronies when they are attorneys of record as well as in making appointments of GALs, mediators, and custody evaluators. She shouts, barks, and shoots from the hip prejudging cases.

    8. She is a political appointee of Jeb Bush who has neither the intellect nor the personality to be a good judge.

  16. watcher says:

    the selection of a chief judge is crucial at this time…Tobin has pushed for judges in the foreclosure division to close cases even where the fraud by the banks is clear…his croney Bernstein even calls the robo-signing” frauds a “paper issue” as she routinely rules in favor of the banks…. Greenhawt is as bad as number 15 above suggests…if she wins its because the rest of the judges hope she’ll sheild their ways

  17. Weinstein Is New Chief Judge : says:

    […] Here is an earlier post for some background on the new chief judge. […]

  18. Bill Livesay says:

    I don’t know Ms. greenhawt nor do I care where she puts her tounge. But, I do know of Judge Weinstein’s career and reputation and they have been above reproach.

  19. Bill Livesay says:

    Oops! Made a typo.