Will Lawyer’s Story Be Drowned Out By Debt?


Judicial candidate Rhoda Sokoloff is so far under water she needs a scuba tank.

It would be bad if her mortgage problems hurt her chances in the upcoming election. That’s because Sokoloff has had an interesting life with some real experience.

Here is her story:

Sokoloff reported a negative net worth of $376,387 when she qualified to run this week against Circuit Court Judge Eileen O’Connor.

With an office near the courthouse, Sokolff had a $388,795 mortgage and another loan for law school of  $112,882 at the end of last year.  Her major asset was a southwest Fort Lauderdale home she values at $147,000.

Being underwater on a mortgage is not an unusual story for someone in south Florida today. That won’t stop it from being used against her in a whispering campaign, a favorite weapon of the courthouse crowd.

When you look past her financial disclosure you see the candidate.

Sokoloff, 57, is a Canadian native and the daughter of Holocaust survivors.  Her parents were engaged, got separated by the Nazis and found each other after the war.

She moved to Florida in 1979 after a divorce.  As a single mom, she raised two sons who are adults today.

Sokoloff worked as a legal aide in Canada and then here. Both she and her son fought seriously life-threatening illnesses along the way.

In the mid-1990s, she decided to go to Nova Southeastern Law School.  She graduated in 1999.

Her specialty is family law (Her website is Browardfamilylaw.com.)  That’s divorce, paternity, domestic violence and drafting prenups.

She says she has a thriving practice and appears regularly in court.

She earned $36,000 from her law practice last year.  Is that another problem? Not if you know how a practice sometimes works.

The idea is to bring that income down for tax reasons by legally charging everything against it cars, telephones, books, etc.  So the income might be low, but how many expenses is charged off to the business?

The financial form doesn’t say and Sokoloff isn’t talking.

“I’m giving up a lot by leaving private practice, is what she does say. “I’m probably losing money.

O’Conner earned $145,508 as a judge last year and had a net worth of $1,163,065 as of Dec. 31.

The Holocaust connection is something featured in her literature. It led me to ask her whether she is running because of her Jewish name.

“No. I always wanted to be a judge, even as a little girl, she says. “I have life experience and community involvement.

She is a mental health activist and a serves as a Guardian Ad Litem.

Public Defender Howard Finkelstein has criticized inexperienced lawyers who are running because their Jewish name will help them win.  He has mentioned some attorneys by name, but not Sokoloff.

Maybe that’s because O’Conner is a former federal prosecutor.  She has the reputation of leaning in favor of the prosecution. I believe Finkelstein prefers judges who are either down the middle or lean in the defense’s direction.

“I have never heard from Howard, Sokoloff says

Based on O’Conner’s rep and Sokoloff’s life experience, Howard just might decide to sit out this race.

9 Responses to “Will Lawyer’s Story Be Drowned Out By Debt?”

  1. Problem says:

    No whisper campaign needed. How does her “story” make her qualified to be a Judge. Rhoda is the posterchild for everything Howard is speaking out against, someone running because they have a jewish last name. The “story” just confirms it.

    The real problem here is that if you have a Judge in this much debt and its well known, it opens that Judge up to the possibility of being bought. We all would like to think these things dont happen but as history has shown it does. Look at Judge Zack his financial problems led to him to take a loan from a bondsman that came before him. While I am not saying Judge Zack did anything wrong it sure made him look bad.

    Howard has nothing to say because Judge Oconnor is in the Civil Division and has nothing to do with his client.

    It just wrote it was an “interesting” story that deserves to be heard.
    Voters can decide whether they believe that she is qualified.

  2. Another interesting story says:

    Maybe Rhoda should be focused on her current problems and not stories of yesteryear.

    Rhoda should get her own house in order before trying to judge other people’s lives.

    Maybe she became a lawyer late in life to cut down on attorneys fees she had to pay all the lawyers to represent her kid.


    I edited this comment to remove material about the candidate’s family. She is on the ballot, not her family.

    Her children are in their 30s. I believe at that point, they take responsibility for their own lives.

  3. Nick says:

    When I hear the name Rhoda Sokoloff mentioned I hear the sound of a violin. I have heard her speak numerous times. I have heard about her parents, read/heard about her almost losing her own life and then the most recent was her sister having breast cancer. I am sorry that is happening in her life but everyone has tragedies in life. Her pity party is not going to make her a good judge.

    As far as the finances go, if Rhoda is a successful attorney she would not have the debt listed on the report. I took it upon myself to research her name to find she has failed to pay property taxes for the last two years. Successful attorney? No retirement? Feel sorry for me and elect me is her campaign.

  4. sounds like says:

    Seems blatant that she is capitalizing on her Holocaust survivor story to me, and that’s goes without a name attached. It is a free for all now and another embarrassing time for our county.

  5. daniel says:

    Debt ridden, but that doesn’t stop her from eating, obesity is her middle name. Like tweedledum she doesn’t walk she waddles. Worse may be her hair, nauseating bright yellow.
    Her client list can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and it should be noted that being a divorce lawyer—how many men are in her client list—the big surprise—zippo baby. Her divorce left her scarred and she has no problem being a misanthrope now to avenge herself on the male species.
    So what can be said for her lawyerly qualities–not much in all actuality. Divorce lawyers feast on their clients’ animosities and hatreds, and make no mistake compromise is not in her lexicon.
    A good judge???? Heaven forbid

  6. kim says:

    If she is such a bad lawyer then how did she get you (Daniel) put in jail for non payment of alimony and child support? Sorry I did not see this post earlier.

  7. Eric says:

    Daniel sounds bitter. I am a client of Rhoda. She has done an excellent job for me in a custody case. Before that, she did an excellent job representing my wife against her former husband. She is fair, which is what being a judge is all about. She and I haven’t always seen eye to eye, but she gets results. Above all, she acts in the best interest of the child in matters of child custody. The respondents to this article seem quick to rush to judgement. I guess it didn’t occur to any of you that perhaps someone with real world issues and financial challenges is just what we need on the bench? I would much rather put the fate of my case in the hands of a judge who is able to relate to the middle class, then some bourgeoisie judge with a net worth over $1 million.

  8. Former Client says:

    I am a former Client…Had to fire her…enough said?

  9. Former Opposing Atty. says:

    I had a case against her and I was not impressed at all. She would not return calls and ran the bill up for my client. Who else is in the race. Anyone with more experience?