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Circuit Court Judges

Are you actually looking for info on the judges for your Nov. 8 ballot? Then head to our Nov. 8 election guide. Below is the info for candidates for the Aug. 30, 2016 election.

Circuit and county judges are a non-partisan position and should be on every Miami-Dade County ballot, regardless of geography.

Judicial groups numbers refer to a particular “seat” or division a circuit or county judge occupies. Both circuit court judges are all able to hear the same types of cases, no matter their group number. (Same for county judges)

Judges are important because they conduct trials, make judgments, and interpret a law on a case-by-case basis.

We asked each candidate to answer this questionnaire.

Below are the candidates for circuit judges in the August  2016 Miami-Dade County elections. There are also four county judges up for election. While we did not include them in our voter guide, we’ve included links to their websites at the bottom of this page.

Group 9
Group 34
Group 52
Group 66
Group 74

County

 

Group 9

Judge Jason Bloch

Occupation: Circuit Court Judge

Education: (J.D., cum laude) Georgetown University Law School
(B.S. Business Administration) University of California, Berkeley
Nova High School

Relevant experience: I currently serve as a Circuit Court Judge in the Criminal Division for the 11th Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade County. I was appointed to the Circuit Court by Governor Rick Scott in 2014. Prior to my appointment to the bench, I was an Assistant County Attorney with the Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office. In my 20 years with that office, I represented the County, and many of its departments, in a wide array of practice areas. These included torts and civil rights defense, public housing, eminent domain, construction disputes and other commercial litigation. I was lead counsel in numerous trials and appeals in both state and federal court (including in the Florida Supreme Court), and served as legal advisor to several agencies including the Public Health Trust (which owns and operates Jackson Memorial Hospital), the Cultural Affairs Department, and the Nuisance Abatement Board.

Why are you running?: I am running to keep my seat on the bench, where I have served since 2014. Circuit Court Judges have a tremendous amount of responsibility, including where I now currently preside, in the Criminal Division. I take that responsibility very seriously. On the one hand, I must ensure that defendants’ basic Constitutional rights are protected. On the other hand, I also must take care to protect the community. I am faced with difficult decisions on a daily basis. At the same time, I also make sure that everyone – that is everyone, whether the defendant or his/her family or the victim and his/her family – is informed about the process and is treated with respect and dignity.

Why are you best qualified?: What should the people of Miami-Dade know about you?: To summarize, I grew up in South Florida, but went away for school. I went to UC-Berkeley undergrad as a Business major. I promoted the concerts on campus and worked part time as a promotions assistant at a San Francisco alternative rock radio station. Thinking I wanted to become a music agent, I was advised to go to law school. I ended up attending Georgetown University in Washington D.C. In that environment, my love and appreciation for the law just took over and my interest in music became more casual (I still play drums in my lawyer band, though). I graduated with honors and came back home to work at the County Attorney’s Office for twenty years. That job was great. High caliber lawyers, interesting work with a lot of court experience, and the flexibility to not just go for the win, but to do what was right.

After twenty years I wanted to take my public service to a different level. I applied to fill a vacancy on the Circuit Court. Thirty-three people applied; it’s a rigorous process – an extensive application and extensive vetting of the candidates. After interviewing with the Judicial Nominating Committee, a group of lawyers who perform that screening, I was nominated, and after still further interviews, ultimately appointed by the governor in late 2014. Since then I have been working hard to make the people who put their faith in me feel proud. It is my job to be the judge the community deserves. Normally, judicial terms are six years. When you are appointed you have to stand for election in the next general election, which is now. As it turns out, someone decided to run against me, just three months after I took the bench. These things happen in Miami. Of course, the voters will decide who is best qualified, but I would ask that they look at my record, and note those who have endorsed and supported me. These include the Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald, the United Teachers of Dade, the United Faculty of Miami-Dade College, the League of Prosecutors, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Metro Dade Firefighters, AFSCME, SEIU, AFL-CIO, and literally dozens of former judges and bar association presidents and leaders. In a recent lawyer’s poll, 85% of the respondents rated me as Exceptionally Qualified or Qualified. In the same poll, 65% of the respondents rated my opponent as Unqualified. It would be my honor to continue serving the public, so I certainly hope and ask that your readers support and vote for me.

Is addiction a disease?: That question is probably best directed toward medical and mental health professionals. However, my anecdotal experience and informal exposure to media on the subject suggests that there may be characteristics of addiction that emulate the criteria for disease. But again, a social-scientific assessment is beyond my field as a lawyer and a judge. Clearly, addiction can be a very damaging condition, for the addict, those around him or her, and society. It is a problem that deserves attention, and though the courts are not the ideal forum for treating addiction, there are various programs and resources that can be available for addiction. For example, the Eleventh Circuit Criminal Court Division (our court here in Miami-Dade) has a Drug Court division, where appropriately selected defendants with substance abuse issues can receive specialized attention and participate in programs focused on the underlying problem, and thereby hopefully eliminate the resulting bad behaviors, including crime.

Do you believe that defendants should be presumed to receive a non-monetary bond?:
Whether and to what extent a defendant should receive a non-monetary bond, or indeed any bond, is guided by the Florida constitutional and Florida law, and is in most case very dependent on the facts of each case. The law in Florida is that in all but the most serious cases the defendant has a presumption of some form of pre-trial release, which might include a monetary bond, non-monetary conditions (such as drug testing, the temporary surrender of passports or weapons, or confinement to house arrest, for example), or both. In some instances non- monetary conditions can be imposed, provided that we can ensure the defendant returns for trial, that the integrity of the proceedings are preserved, and that the community will be safe.

Should discretionary costs be waived for the homeless?: Once again, these decisions must be resolved on a case by case basis. As it turns out, however, most of the “court costs” in criminal cases are mandated by statute, and the Court simply has no discretion to waive them. However, in some cases we are able to defer the date they are due, or set up a payment plan. Of course, this may not mean much to someone who is truly homeless, with no real income. In situations where defendants, or former defendants, have expressed difficulty obtaining a job, I routinely refer them to programs like Transition, Inc., which exist for the precise purpose of helping folks who have had encounters with the criminal justice system to find jobs. My opinion is that this is a better alternative than just waiving costs, and sending a defendant on their way. If they can get a job, they not only have the ability to reimburse the taxpayers for the costs of the criminal activity they committed (a relatively small benefit), they also get all of the giant benefits of becoming a productive member of society, and so do all of us.

Should a civil citation be the presumed penalty for a first offense of cannabis possession?: This is a question for the legislature. Judges don’t make law, we apply it. It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out, as there is obviously a lot of interest in relaxing these laws, and in some states cannabis use has been legalized for medicinal purposes, or even recreational purposes.

Should judges have a say as to whether a juvenile is direct filed into the adult system?:
Hate to keep repeated myself, but once again this is a question for the legislature. And again, this is a hot topic of discussion and debate.

How would you describe your sentencing philosophy?: We need to take everything into account: the seriousness of the offense, the effect on the victim, whether there are any mitigating or aggravating factors, etc. Under Florida law, the primary purpose of sentencing is to punish, but where appropriate, the possibility of rehabilitation. Although it may sound cliché, I have heard others describe me as tough, but fair.

What makes Miami so darn cool? What’s your perfect Saturday in Miami?: Where do I start? Miami is really coming into its own. With new cultural facilities like the PAMM and the Arsht Center, a diverse population with a wonderful mix of heritages and backgrounds, the emergence of hip and interesting neighborhoods like Wynwood and the Design District, and an increasingly sophisticated and educated population, Miami is finding its place as a world class city. Lately, my perfect Saturday is one where I can get some rest and spend some time with my family! Being a judge, and one who is campaigning at the same time, keeps me very busy.
Marcia Del Ray

Did not respond to multiple requests for interviews.

Group 34

Mark Blumstein

In response to our questionnaire, Mr. Blumstein provided his voluntary disclosure statement made to The Florida Bar to inform the public about his candidacy.  and his biography on his campaign website. Relevant information to our questions were pulled from those sources.

Occupation: Navy Judge Advocate and Attorney

Education: (J.D., Magna Cum Laude ) Nova Southeastern University
(B.S. Business Administration)  University of Florida
Miami Beach Senior High School

Relevant experience: Commencing in 1996, Mark served as a prosecutor and defense attorney with the United States Navy, Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Mark handled felony and misdemeanor crimes in the U.S. Navy before both bench and jury trials.

Following active service in the U.S. Navy, Mark returned home and commenced private practice for a local law firm where he practiced, among other things, admiralty law, while maintaining his affiliation and service in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He then joined another local law firm where he became a Shareholder and Partner and litigated contract, tort and commercial matters. Mark has tried cases and appeared in state and federal courts throughout Florida and beyond. In 2008, Mark opened his own law firm in Miami-Dade County representing individuals and corporations, including a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of victims of defective Chinese drywall.

Mark is proud to have represented clients on both sides of the aisle, for the prosecution and defense, for the plaintiff and the defendant and as a litigant himself. This experience and perspective will serve him and those who come before him well as our elected Judge.

Mark has also served our community as an elected official and Commissioner for the Town of Surfside, FL, where he resides with his family. Mark continues to serve the people of Miami-Dade County, including on its Military Affairs Board, which has initiated the pursuit of a Veterans Court. (From website biography)

Why are you running?: I believe I would be a good judge for reasons including my legal acumen, trial experience and legal practice in areas of law including criminal law, commercial and civil law, torts, class action matters, admiralty law, family law, international law and military law. My selfless service to our community and nation, dedication to public service, understanding of the local community, leadership experience and ability, as well as temperament will also serve me well as a judge. (From Florida Bar voluntary disclosure)

Remaining questions unanswered. 

Renee Gordon

Occupation: Assistant Public Defender Juvenile Division Miami-Dade County

Education: (J.D.) University of Connecticut
(B.A.) Morris Brown
Miami Springs Senior High

Relevant experience: Over 20 years advocating on behalf of young people. I recently received the 11th judicial circuit for my advocacy in juvenile justice.

Why are you running?: Miami-Dade residents deserve a judge that reflects our diverse community, is responsible to ensure justice, respectful-giving dignity, and a true public servant, qualified and ready-to-serve.

Why are you best qualified? What should the people of Miami-Dade know about you?: Miami-Dade residents deserve a judge who has extensive trial experience, sound legal acumen, and the proper temperament that it takes to manage a courtroom. In addition to these attributes, I bring with me a spirit of public service which is evidenced by the work that I have done in and for the citizens of Miami-Dade County for more than twenty years. Much of this work has been on behalf of juveniles, both in the courtroom and in the community. I have worked passionately to ensure that our youth have a fighting chance to become productive members of our workforce. Finally, I believe that our judiciary should reflect the diverse community in which we live. Your support of my candidacy would present an opportunity to elect a highly qualified individual who cares about her community, with the added benefit of positively impacting the underrepresentation of an important segment of our society.

Is addiction a disease?: Unfortunately, because I am a judicial candidate, the Canons of Judicial Conduct prohibit me from answering this question.

Do you believe that defendants should be presumed to receive a non-monetary bond?: Unfortunately, because I am a judicial candidate, the Canons of Judicial Conduct prohibit me from answering this question.

Should discretionary costs be waived for the homeless?: Unfortunately, because I am a judicial candidate, the Canons of Judicial Conduct prohibit me from answering this question.

Should a civil citation be the presumed penalty for a first offense of cannabis possession?: Unfortunately, because I am a judicial candidate, the Canons of Judicial Conduct prohibit me from answering this question.

Should judges have a say as to whether a juvenile is direct filed into the adult system?: Unfortunately, because I am a judicial candidate, the Canons of Judicial Conduct prohibit me from answering this question.

How would you describe your sentencing philosophy?: Following guidelines but definitely departing when discretion is appropriate.

What makes Miami so darn cool? What’s your perfect Saturday in Miami?: Diversity makes Miami so cool!! Perfect Saturday- no such thing. I enjoy the interruptions. However, if at the end of any given Saturday, I would have helped someone, accomplished a personal goal (even if laundry) and enjoyed family and friends, then that is pretty perfect.

Luis Perez-Medina

Did not respond to multiple requests for interviews.

Denise Martinez-Scanziani

Occupation: Attorney
Education: (J.D., cum laude) University of Florida, Fredric C. Levin College of Law
(B.A. Criminology, summa cum laude) University of Florida

Relevant experience: Legal Intern, Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office, Early
Release Unit
Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Service of Broward County, Senior Citizen
Law Project
Attorney, Scanziani Law Group, LLC
Guardian ad Litem
Why are you running?: If you believe in statistics, I should not be running at all. The odds were
stacked against me from the beginning. I am the first person in my family to attend college. My mother, who was essentially a single mother due to my father’s drug addiction, worked two jobs and as kids we were often left on our own. My mother, however, raised me to understand that education was the key to a different life. As the oldest of five siblings, I understood hardship and struggle from a very young age, at times facing nights without enough food to eat. I started working when I was 14 years old, but I set my mind to succeeding in school. As a result, I attended the University of Florida where I graduated with my B.A. in Criminology, summa cum laude and with my J.D., cum laude.

Today, I am an AV Preeminent-rated attorney (the judiciary and my peers have granted me the highest possible rating in both professional ability and ethical standards) who has represented a large cross-section of our community, but especially the poorest and most vulnerable—our senior citizens and children. My desire and passion to serve did not begin when I filed my candidacy for judge. My service to my community began when I chose to accept a position as a staff attorney with Legal Aid, representing one of the most vulnerable populations in the community—our senior citizens. I am also a former high school teacher where I was able to begin a Law Studies program and teach juniors and seniors in the areas of Government, U.S. History and Writing. Today I continue to work with youth as an attorney coach for high school mock trial teams. My service continued through the thousands of pro-bono hours I have given throughout the course of my career—providing pro bono representation, at the trial AND appellate level, donating time in clinics throughout the county and as a Guardian ad litem representing the interests of children. Throughout my career I have always sought to serve the interests of justice, ensuring access to those who could not otherwise obtain it. Simply put, I am passionate about the law, about justice, and serving my community. My priority is to make a difference for this community that I will serve. As a mother of three and wife to my high school sweetheart and law partner, I believe that if I can make a difference in the lives of families in crisis, we can impact a community in crisis. It is my desire to serve in the dependency division, where child abuse cases are heard, to do just that.

Why are you best qualified? What should the people of Miami-Dade know about you?: I have the qualifications, experience and heart to serve my community in this manner. With over 16 years of legal experience, I am the only AV Preeminent-rated attorney in my group. I am a trial and appellate lawyer who has practiced in every division of the court system. I believe that although our judicial system is not perfect, qualified and experienced judges who follow the law and value precedent bring stability and fairness. I believe that if those who come before a judge are treated with dignity, respect and feel they have had their day in court, although they may not necessarily receive the outcome they desire, they will walk away knowing that they were heard. I believe that my background as a trial and appellate attorney in different areas of the law—civil, family, dependency and criminal—provides me with a broad understanding and perspective that
make me uniquely-suited to take on this role. And finally, I believe that a judge is no more than a servant to his or her community and I would be honored to serve Miami-Dade County in this position of trust.

Is addiction a disease?: Yes.

Do you believe that defendants should be presumed to receive a non-monetary bond?: I respectfully decline to respond to this question due to Canon 7 restrictions.

Should discretionary costs be waived for the homeless?: I respectfully decline to respond to this question due to Canon 7 restrictions.

Should a civil citation be the presumed penalty for a first offense of cannabis possession?: I respectfully decline to respond to this question due to Canon 7 restrictions.

Should judges have a say as to whether a juvenile is direct filed into the adult system?: I respectfully decline to respond to this question due to Canon 7 restrictions.

How would you describe your sentencing philosophy?: In the event I am assigned to the Criminal Division, I am required to follow Florida’s sentencing guidelines. To the degree that I would have discretion, I would consider both mitigating and aggravating circumstances. Beyond this, I respectfully decline to respond to this question due to Canon 7 restrictions.

What makes Miami so darn cool? What’s your perfect Saturday in Miami?: One of the best parts of running in a countywide race is that you get to experience this richly diverse county in an intimate way. From Aventura to Florida City and from the beach to the Everglades, one of the things that makes Miami “so darn cool” is the wonderful diversity of people, backgrounds, races, cultures, and ethnicities. This makes Miami-Dade County a snapshot of the world and wherever you go, you are able to experience something you didn’t experience the day before. A perfect
Saturday in Miami can be biking in Shark Valley or exploring Wynwood art with my family or eating at any of the thousands of diverse restaurants Miami-Dade has to offer. That’s the beauty of Miami-Dade, every day can be an adventure.

Group 52

Rosy Aponte

Occupation: Attorney

Education: (J.D.) Whittier Law School
(B.S. Education) Barry University
Advocate, Special Education Children’s Clinic (2007)
(A.A. Philosophy) Miami-Dade Community College

International Law Summer Abroad Programs”
(Summer 2004) Cantabria, Spain, Whittier Law School (Program name: International Arbitration)
(Summer 2006) Florence, Italy, Dickinson Penn State School of Law (Program name: International Art and Trademark)

Relevant experience: I have 8 years experience being a litigation/trial attorney. I was on the frontline of foreclosure defense when the crisis hit and I represented thousands of homeowners in this community.

Why are you best qualified? What should the people of Miami-Dade know about you?: Because I have dedicated my career to serving the public. I was a school teacher for 7 years and then dedicated by legal career to being a litigation attorney mostly in civil rights law and foreclosure defense. This experience gives me the ability to communicate and work with all kinds of diverse people and gives me the compassion to do what is just for the parties and our society as a whole.

Is addiction a disease?: Yes it is and often hereditary.

Do you believe that defendants should be presumed to receive a non-monetary bond?: It depends on the circumstance, but it should only apply to non-violent cases.

Should discretionary costs be waived for the homeless?: Absolutely. All people must have access to their day in Court. For example, maybe the reason they are homeless is a direct effect of the lawsuit they want to file.

Should a civil citation be the presumed penalty for a first offense of cannabis possession?: Yes unless it is such large amount that it was meant for illegal distribution.

Should judges have a say as to whether a juvenile is direct filed into the adult system?: I think the jury should decide that.

How would you describe your sentencing philosophy?: My philosophy would be to always look at the entire set of circumstances surrounding the crime, victim and the offender. For example offender’s background, education, past traumas or abuses, etc.

What makes Miami so darn cool? What’s your perfect Saturday in Miami?: The perfect Saturday is a day boating and then having lunch by a restaurant in South Beach or the Miami River before sailing out again!

Carol “Jodie” Breece

Occupation: Ethics Counsel

Education: (J.D.) The Catholic University of America
(B.A., Criminal Justice) University of Maryland, College Park

Relevant experience: 23 years as a trial attorney and 23 years in public service, including 17 years as a prosecutor and 3 years as a defense attorney in private practice. I ran the Miami bureau of the Office of Statewide Prosecution for 8 years and I ran receiverships for 2 years, both jobs giving me invaluable management and administrative experience. As a former Traffic Hearing Officer, I presided over thousands of traffic ticket cases, applying and deciding the law and facts, including ruling on pretrial motions and ruling on the admission of evidence. I served on The Florida Bar’s Criminal Procedure Rules Committee and the Evidence Code and Rules Committee for a total of 9 years. I am presently an Adjunct Professor of ethics and professionalism for grad students at FIU’s Master of Public Administration program.

Why are you running?: I want to elevate the level of my public service, to which I am deeply committed and which I understand very well. I believe being a judge would be the best use of my skills and experience in public service to the benefit our community.

Why are you best qualified? What should the people of Miami-Dade know about you?: I have the most relevant experience and highest qualifications of the candidates in my group, including but not limited to (1) having an AV Preeminent Rating from my peers for the highest professional ability and ethical standards and (2) being a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Trial Law (just 1.7% of Florida Bar’s members in good standing are certified in any trial law category). I have a deep and abiding love of the law and our community. And, when elected, I will be Miami’s first Asian American trial judge in 40 years and the first female Asian American judge in Miami’s history.

Is addiction a disease?: Yes, this is scientifically proven. That said, if I as a judge were to be required to decide whether addiction is a disease in a relevant matter in a case before me, I would rely solely upon the evidence provided to me in court.

Do you believe that defendants should be presumed to receive a non-monetary bond?: My belief about such issues does not matter. I must follow the law as it is written, unless it is unconstitutional or otherwise legally flawed. But the fact is that Florida law does require a judge to set a non-monetary bond if it is sufficient to protect the public and secure the defendant’s appearance back in court.

Should discretionary costs be waived for the homeless?: Yes, otherwise it is folly and will result in persistent and unnecessary consequences to the individual and the system.

Should a civil citation be the presumed penalty for a first offense of cannabis possession?: My belief about such issues does not matter. If a first offense of cannabis possession is presented to me in court as a civil citation, I will adjudicate it according to the law, unless the law is unconstitutional or otherwise legally flawed.

Should judges have a say as to whether a juvenile is direct filed into the adult system?: Judges should have wide latitude to decide matters relating to children; after all, reform is the goal of the juvenile justice system, and the judge is in the best position to decide what is best for the child and society.

How would you describe your sentencing philosophy?: As you know, mandatory sentencing guidelines apply in Circuit Court. If the parties (the State and the Defendant) come to a reasonable agreement about the sentence, I will impose it. If offered, I will hear from the victim and the Defendant and any other person with relevant information about the possible sentence within the guidelines or, if legally permitted, outside the guidelines. I will sentence according to the facts and circumstances surrounding the criminal episode and within the bounds of the law, understanding the numerous and severe consequences that flow from criminal convictions and being under a sentence of court.

What makes Miami so darn cool? What’s your perfect Saturday in Miami?: My coolest perfect Saturday in Miami is probably in January (!) riding my bicycle with my husband and friends through Miami’s canopied roads to Black Point, down the Venetian Causeway to the Beach, or over the Rickenbacker bridge to Key Biscayne. It’s the best way to experience the beauty, weather, and camaraderie of our lovely community.

Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts

Did not respond to multiple requests for interviews.

Group 66

Judge Robert Luck

Did not respond to multiple requests for interviews.

Yolly Roberson

*This response was added after publication. 

Occupation: Attorney

Education: (J.D.) New England School of Law

Relevant experience: Public Defender, Assistant Attorney General, Private Counsel

Why are you running?: It’s an opportunity to continue to serve my community

Why are you best qualified? What should the people of Miami-Dade know about you?: My diverse life and professional experience

Is addiction a disease?: Yes

Do you believe that defendants should be presumed to receive a non-monetary bond?: My belief as to what the law should be is not as important as my duty to uphold the law

Should discretionary costs be waived for the homeless?: Yes — but again a judge must apply the law

Should a civil citation be the presumed penalty for a first offense of cannabis possession?: Yes — but judges must implement the law.

Should judges have a say as to whether a juvenile is direct filed into the adult system?: Same answer as stated above

How would you describe your sentencing philosophy?: N/A

What makes Miami so darn cool? What’s your perfect Saturday in Miami?: The weather — a beach day.

Group 74

Judge George “Jorge” Sarduy

*This response was added after publication.

Occupation: Circuit Court Judge

Education: (J.D.) Florida State University, (B.A.) Florida International University, (A.A.) Miami-Dade Community College,

Relevant experience: I’ve been a lawyer for over 22 years. I practiced law for 12 years (achieving the highest rating offered by Martindale-Hubbell, AV. The rating is performed by lawyers and judges) before being appointed to the bench in 2006. I was a county court judge from 2006 to 2008 and then elevated to the circuit court bench.

Why are you running?: As a former high school dropout, I was only able to achieve my goals with faith, family and the help of others. Since becoming a judge, I have helped many troubled youths stay in school and appreciate the importance of an education. I find that my life experiences resonate with them and give them hope, as I’ve walked in their shoes. I am committed to help youth achieve their potential. I want to be what so many were to me.

Why are you best qualified? What should the people of Miami-Dade know about you?: My experience and training both on and off the bench give me not only a solid legal foundation but also make me particularly sensitive to the challenges that many families face on a day to day basis.

Is addiction a disease?: When I was the Associate Administrative Judge of the Juvenile Division, I participated in many trainings and lectures which addressed this topic. In my experience, I have seen that addiction can be a disease.

Do you believe that defendants should be presumed to receive a non-monetary bond?: As a judge, I am required to follow the law. Currently, if a person does not have a significant criminal history and has ties to this community, then they can qualify for non-monetary bonds if they are not being charged with major crimes.

Should discretionary costs be waived for the homeless?: If a cost is discretionary, I believe that a judge should exercise his/her discretion and depending on the facts of the case, can make the appropriate decision.

Should a civil citation be the presumed penalty for a first offense of cannabis possession?: As a judge, I am required to follow the law. Additionally, as a judge, I am prohibited from taking a position on a matter that is or may come before me. Having said that, as the law evolves on this and other matters, I will follow it.

Should judges have a say as to whether a juvenile is direct filed into the adult system?: As a judge, I am required to follow the law. Additionally, as a judge, I am prohibited from taking a position on a matter that is or may come before me.

How would you describe your sentencing philosophy?: I am not assigned to the criminal division but if I was to go to that division, I would follow the law. There are sentencing guidelines that control.

What makes Miami so darn cool? What’s your perfect Saturday in Miami?: I love this question. I think it’s amazing diversity is what makes it special. Be it race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, we have it all. We are such a rich community and all the better for it. My perfect Saturday night is being anywhere with my lovely wife. She is my angel.

Elena Ortega-Tauler

Did not respond to multiple requests for interviews.

County Judges

Group 5
Milena Abreu
Fred Seraphin 

Group 7
Lizzet Martinez 
Ed Newman

Group 15
Ruben Y. Alcoba 
Linda Luce

Group 35
Wendell Graham
Antonio “Tony” Jimenez