This post is part of our voter guide for the Aug. 28 local and primary elections. Head to the main landing page for a guide to the key races and decisions being made this election.
Florida judicial elections are nonpartisan, so if your M.O. is to just vote for your party’s candidate in every race, you’re out of luck. Luckily we have this voter guide.
What they do: Circuit judges deal with felonies, domestic situations, juvenile issues, and civil cases about amounts of $15,000 or more, among a couple other things.
How do we evaluate the candidates? Judges don’t campaign on platforms because they’re not supposed to share their opinions, predictions, etc. about anything that could come up once they’re on the court. If you’re trying to figure out how to evaluate the judicial candidates (hat tip to Sarah Emmons and Olga Cormier for that question), you should look at things like their ability to be impartial, fair, and ethical. Previous employment will also provide hints – whether they were a public defender (who generally represent those accused of a crime who can’t afford an attorney) or state prosecutor can say a lot about their idea of justice, and you can take it from there on whether you agree with it.
If you really want to dig in, you can scope out the Florida Bar Association’s full voter guide.
We’ll be looking at whether they have any grievances or disciplinary action from the Florida Bar Association, their legal experience, and some of their endorsements (you’ll notice sometimes that an organization will endorse more than one candidate in the race). We’ll also be linking to their personal statements on their professional experience and why they think they would make a good judge.
Legal experience: Circuit court judge for the past 18 years (he’s the incumbent). Civil trial lawyer for 22 years before that.
Endorsements: SEIU of Florida (a union mostly representing health care workers), South Florida AFL-CIO (a major federation of unions), United Faculty of Miami-Dade College (university faculty union), Dade County Police Benevolent Association, SAVE (LGBT rights organization), United Teachers of Dade (teachers’ union), Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida, the Miami Herald
Legal experience: A partner at insurance defense firm Cole, Scott, & Kissane for the past four years. Spent six years as a state prosecutor in Tampa.
Endorsements: Miami-Dade Firefighters
VIVIANNE DEL RIO
Legal experience: del Rio is an assistant state attorney, and has been with them for 26 years.
Endorsements: League of Prosecutors; Police Benevolent Association; Carlos Hernandez, Mayor of Hialeah; Orlando Lopez, Mayor of Sweetwater; Roberto Martell, Mayor of Medley; Frank Quesada, Vice Mayor of Coral Gables; Jose Caragol, Councilman of Hialeah; Manny Cid, Mayor of Miami Lakes; Cesar Méstre, Commissioner of Miami Lakes; Manolo Reboso, Commissioner of the City of Miami; ALF-CIO (a major federation of unions); Christian Family Coalition; United Teachers of Miami Dade College; Latin Builders Association
Legal experience: Trial attorney who has spent 22 years in the public defender’s office. Part of that time, she also ran a private law practice.
Endorsements: Gordon has a long list of individual endorsements that includes scores of Miami-Dade’s African-American leaders. She was also endorsed by the Miami Herald, SEIU of Florida, and United Teachers of Dade.
LOUIS V. MARTINEZ
Legal experience: Martinez is currently with the international law firm Diaz Reus & Targ, LLP. Previously ran his own firm, worked as deputy chief assistant to the State Attorney General, and as a state attorney.
Endorsements: Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, County Commission Chairman Esteban Bovo, County Commissioner Javier Souto, County Commissioner Joe Martinez, Hialeah Gardens Mayor Yioset De La Cruz, Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez, City of Miami Commissioner Willy Gort
Legal experience: Marrero has practiced law for 29 years, 10 of them at the firm Marrero Borzogi PL, of which she is a founding partner. The firm is focused on representing individuals charged with state and federal offenses. She was also an assistant public defender 10 years.
Endorsements: Miami Herald, SEIU of Florida (a union mostly representing health care workers), SAVE (an LGBT rights organization), The League of Prosecutors, Latin Builders Association, United Teachers of Dade (teachers’ union), United Faculty of Miami-Dade College, Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida, AFL-CIO (a large federation of unions)
Legal experience: Perkins has been practicing law for 11 years, nine of them with the law firm Garbett, Allen, & Roza, PA, where he has focused on financial fraud.
Endorsements: AFL-CIO (a large federation of unions), United Faculty of Miami-Dade College, SEIU of Florida, National Organization for Women, Fraternal Order of Police, United Teachers of Dade (teachers’ union), Hispanic Police Officers Association, Dade Firefighters Association, Police Benevolent Association