TV’s “Help Me Howard” Opens Re-Election For Public Defender




Howard “Help Me Howard” Finkelstein opened his campaign on Monday for another four years as Public Defender.



Howard “Help Me Howard” Finkelstein


First elected unopposed in 2004, Finkelstein filed his papers in Tallahassee allowing him to collect contributions.

His treasurer is Steven Michaelson — retired deputy public defender and, more important, a long-time political strategist for former Public Defender Al Schreiber and then for Finkelstein.

The pony-tailed diminutive Finkelstein, 62, had the classic spectacular rise, tragic fall and phoenix-like return all played out in the media.

He went from a mouthy assistant public defender to a high-rolling private attorney. Then came a very public shaming  — a cocaine arrest and a suspension from the Bar.

Finkelstein got clean.  Then he got a helping hand from Public Defender Schreiber, who hired him and helped him regain his Bar license.

Perhaps his biggest break came during the O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1994 when WSVN Channel 7 used Finkelstein extensively as a legal analysts.  That job morphed into his current widely-promoted role as the consumer advocate “Help Me Howard” on the station’s news broadcasts.

When Schreiber retired in 2004, Finkelstein literally inherited his job.

He has been a controversial Public Defender, who is not afraid to attack judges and the State Attorney’s Office publicly.   Yet despite the many enemies in legal circles that he has made, Finkelstein is considered politically invulnerable.

The reason are those Channel 7 broadcasts, which have given Finkelstein recognition across South Florida which other politicians envy.  Most political figures have to buy name ID.

But Finkelstein doesn’t rest on his name ID alone.  Like his nemesis State Attorney Mike Satz,  the Public Defender frequently speaks to business, civic, condominium and religious groups even in years when he isn’t on the ballot.  He also is often quoted in the media because of his ability to speak in pithy sound bites.

These attributes have kept viable candidate from challenging Finkelstein to date. That track record of easily coasting to re-election is expected to continue this year.




6 Responses to “TV’s “Help Me Howard” Opens Re-Election For Public Defender”

  1. Former PD says:

    Buddy you are right that Finkelstein is not vulnerable in his election, but he still is feared by his office staff and is a media hound, and has not tried a case in years.

  2. keep Howard honest or else says:

    What better way to go out with a FU to the Broward establishment then to slide golden boy Gordon Weeks in at the last minute and Howard decides to not qualify. Howard goes out putting in the fist African American man to hold a constitutional office in broward.

    Those in the know, know that Gordon Weeks has become a fixture at political events in the last year where prior to then he was never around. This is no coincidence.

    Someone should file and go to tally to make sure all of Howards reelection docs and his check are timely filed.

  3. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Nobody beats Howard Finkelstein if he runs for re-election. Nobody.


  4. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Only a NOBODY NO TALENT would want to be a Public Defender in Broward County which brings with it NO POLITICAL future

  5. To Angelo says:

    Judge Ilona Holmes can beat Howard Finklestein but unfortunately she doesn’t want the job.

  6. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    I stand proven right! Who ever heard of Ilona Holmes? Another Nobody!