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 these judges do: County and circuit judges are both trial judges. The county judges handle misdemeanors, which usually have jail sentences of less than a year, and civil cases under amounts of $15,000 or less.
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. Their type of legal experience will also provide hints – for example, if they were a public defender (who generally represent those accused of a crime who can’t afford an attorney) or a state prosecutor can give some hints about their judicial philosophy. 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 disciplinary action from the Florida Bar Association, their legal experience, and some of their endorsements. We’ll also be linking to their personal statements on their professional experience and why they think they would make a good judge.
ROSY ANNETTE APONTE
Legal experience: Began practicing law in 2007. Has run her own law firm since 2009.
Endorsements: Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan, Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen-Gonzalez, Miami Dade County Commissioner Dennis Moss, Fraternal Order of Police, Unified Faculty of Miami-Dade College, Puerto Rican Bar Association
She did not provide a personal statement to the Florida Bar, but you can find her LinkedIn profile here.
Legal experience: Nunez has been an assistant state attorney’s office for 13 years, and is currently chief of the Human Trafficking Unit. Before that she was the felony division chief.
Endorsements: Miami Herald, United Faculty of Miami-Dade College, SAVE (LGBT rights organization), AFL-CIO (large federation of unions), United Teachers of Dade, SEIU of Florida (union mostly representing health care workers)
Legal experience: Martinez has spent 20 years as an attorney and partner in her own firm, focused mostly on family law. She has also served as a guardian ad litem, acting as a representative for children in the court system.
Endorsements: Miami Herald, SAVE, AFL-CIO, United Faculty of Miami-Dade College, Fraternal Order of Police, Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida
Legal experience: He has run his own firm for more than 18 years, focused on criminal defense and family law.
Endorsements: Police Benevolent Association, United Faculty of Miami-Dade College, AFL-CIO, League of Prosecutors
Legal experience: Adebayo is an assistant regional counsel in the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel for the Third Region of Florida. Before that, she spent 10 years in the state attorney’s office.
Endorsements: Miami Herald, League of Prosecutors, Police Benevolent Association, SAVE, AFL-CIO, United Faculty of Miami-Dade College, United Teachers of Dade, Hispanic Police Officers Association, Metro-Dade Firefighters, Fraternal Order of Police
Legal experience: Sosa-Bruzon started her legal career as a public defender. She’s now a partner in a private law practice.
Endorsements: No endorsements found on her website.
No personal statement was submitted to the Florida Bar.
Legal experience: Barket has been an attorney within his own firm for more than 19 years.
Endorsements: Miami Herald, SEIU of Florida
Legal experience: Ortega-Tauler launched her own private practice in 1988, and founded her current firm, which focuses on civil litigation, in 2004. She was suspended from the Florida Bar for three years on ethical grounds, although she is now once again a member in good standing.
Endorsements: No endorsements found on her website
No personal statement provided to the Florida Bar
Legal experience: Assistant regional counsel for the Third Region of Florida with the death penalty unit and traffic court hearing officer. She’s one of the only women in the county certified to try death penalty cases. Former assistant public defender. She came within 660 votes of being elected as a county court judge in 2016.
Endorsements: Miami Herald, SEIU of Florida
Legal experience: Mirabal has 14 years of experience with an international law firm in Spain and Miami. Has worked as a guardian ad litem.
Endorsements: Cuban American Veterans Association, La Junta Patriotica Cubana, Latin Builders Association
No personal statement submitted to the Florida Bar