Three Veterans Could Leave Finkelstein’s Office


Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein is shouting “Help Me after three of his most experienced public defenders told him they want to leave his office to become a judge.

“I can’t stop my people from wanting to further their career, but it’s going to hurt. says Finkelstein,  WSVN-TV “Help Me Howard” legal commentator. 

The three who could be launching campaigns for the bench are Sandra Perlman, Bruce Raticoff and a third attorney I promised Finkelstein I wouldn’t identify.  But her last name is the same as an Old Testament  king.

Finkelstein noted that his budget is under pressure from the recession and a tight-fisted Tallahassee.  He doesn’t believe he will be able to offer enough money to get veteran attorneys as replacements.

“It would be a huge loss, Finkelstein said.  “They are among my most experienced public defenders.

Perlman, 48,  is the only one who has gone public about running.

She hasn’t opened a campaign account yet.  She says she will do so “sooner rather than later.

One of Finkelstein’s top murder defense attorneys, Perlman has 24 years of almost constant trial experience.  Much of it was with the Broward County Public Defenders Office.

Talk to Perlman and you see the shape of her campaign forming.

Perlman is running against Circuit Judge Cheryl Aleman.  She has a history with the judge.

She and Raticoff clashed with Aleman in court, leading to the judge’s reprimand by the Florida Supreme Court this month.  

Aleman was accused of being “discourteous to lawyers.  She was said to lack compassion for defendants.

Perlman can not come right out and attack Aleman.  It’s not judicial and may violate the rules governing campaigns for judge.

So she hints at what’s wrong with the incumbent, while highlighting what she’ll bring to the bench. 

“I don’t think experience alone qualifies somebody, Perlman says. “It’s also about caring about the community, about wanting to help people, about wanting to do what’s right.

“You want a judge that’s going to be fair. Compassionate.  Compassion is a good quality.

Translation:  I’ve got all these qualities and Aleman doesn’t.

Beyond Aleman, Perlman has an appealing story to tell voters.

She was born and raised in North Miami Beach.  She patterned her life after an uncle who was an attorney in Chicago. 

Her uncle taught her that being a lawyer meant she gets to defend our way of life through the system of law.

Went to Dade County public schools.  Graduated from the University of Florida law school.

Loves work: “Every time I go into a courtroom I get to protect a person’s rights.

Perlman will now have to take it on the road, from Hallandale to Coral Springs. Broward is a daunting county to campaign in.

She’s already got Charles Lichtman, who defended the Florida Democratic Party during presidential elections, as her campaign manager.

Lichtman is at Berger Singerman in downtown Fort Lauderdale, where Democratic moneymiester Mitch Berger is a name partner. I’m sure Berger will help with the campaign financing. 

In the end the race will come down to this: Perlman, who has learned to sway hundreds of jurors, will now have to try to sway thousands of voters.

She’ll have the advantage of the most politically powerful member of Broward’s legal community in her corner Finkelstein.

“This (public defenders) office should not be political, Finkelstein says.  “That said, I’m voting for her.  I will tell anybody who asks to vote for her. I hope everybody I know will vote for her.

Perlman is lucky. Finkelstein knows a lot of people.

8 Responses to “Three Veterans Could Leave Finkelstein’s Office”

  1. Wally Steinmetz says:

    What does Sandra Perlman look like? Why no picture?

    FROM BUDDY: Are you looking for a date? Seriously, I couldn’t obtain a picture. I will post one at some point during the campaign.

  2. anonymous says:

    It will be interesting how much Howard will do. It sure would smack Judge Bober in the face if Howard does more for Sandy then he did for Bober.

    Sandy has an uphill battle, Aleman had the same type opponent last time around. I would imagine one or two civil lawyers getting in this race.

    Aleman is a nightmare but she does have a large Christian voting base that despite her badly run campaign last time, came out to enable her to win huge.

    At the end of the day while lawyers know how awful the result of the JQC matter was, the voting public has no clue. It can be spun as Aleman was tough on a criminal. Bottom line, voters dont like criminals and those that defend them for a living. That is why an older, male, career civil lawyer will let these two beat the crap out of each other and be the safe choice. Ask Judge John Murphy, worked for him.

  3. Political Howie says:

    Howard claims he is non-political. The truth is that he learned at the knee of Big Al and he is just as political as Big Al, only more so because he is quiet about it. If he is so non-political, how come so many lawyers from his office have been running for judge. Maybe Howard wants to control the courthouse? Oh, but he is so non-political.

  4. Tilden Worthall says:

    Why don’t you check out how much Howard works? He is never in the office.

  5. JaaBlog says:

    What makes Howard think he can elect Mindy, Bruce and Sandy judges? There will be other candidates.

  6. Howard is a wackado says:

    Anybody associated with Howard “Druggie” Finkelstein should immediately be rejected by voters. Mister “Druggie” Finkelstein would allow anybody out of jail, regardless of their crime because he himself was?is? hooked on drugs like cocaine and marijuana and heroin.
    Perlman would be the same….

  7. alert says:

    it is amazing how Howard Finkrlstein says he is non political,but isnt it funny every four years,the public defenders fill there democratic committee seats with Public Defenders staff,steve michelson makes sure Broward Chair Mitch Ceasar gets relected,they dont attend meetings.they get to stay on the committee violating the three absent rule and then you do not see them for 4 more years in time for the reelection,this has been going on since Al Shrieber and continues today with non political Howard Finkelstein

  8. Howard's Guy says:

    Four, Buddy.
    Just heard that four were leaving.