Let’s begin with a quick civics lesson from the Florida Bar: “Circuit Courts have original jurisdiction over civil disputes involving more than $30,000; controversies involving the estates; cases relating to juveniles; felony criminal prosecutions; tax disputes; real estate disputes and other matters” while “County Courts have jurisdiction over civil disputes involving $30,000 or less. Most nonjury trials in Florida take place before a County Court judge and involve citizen disputes such as traffic offenses, less serious criminal matters and small monetary disputes.”
In both court systems, judges are elected to serve six-year terms. With that primer behind us, let’s take a look at the candidates in the 2022 circuit and county court races.
Candidates for Circuit Judge in the 11th Judicial Circuit
The Miami Herald Editorial Board issues their own recommendations for circuit judges. They extensively explain their reasoning for the recommendations here, but that info is behind a paywall. I made note of their endorsements below. I also made note of who is an incumbent with “inc.” in front of their name.
You’ll also see that, when made available by the candidates, I linked out to their voluntary self-disclosure statements they turned into the Florida Bar. The Florida Bar offers the statements as “an opportunity [for candidates] to provide information about themselves and their backgrounds to the public in preparation for an election.”
Additionally, you’ll see where I linked out to Law.com’s media coverage of each race. The coverage varies from covering controversies, to featuring opinions from local experts, to providing information directly from the candidates.
And finally, the University of Miami School of Law’s Laurie Silvers & Mitchell Rubenstein Distinguished Professor of Law Michael Froomkin produced his own voters guide that not only gives his recommendations, but also some tips as to how to approach evaluating the candidates.
Law.com’s coverage of the race
Jason Edward Bloch – Miami Herald endorsement
Inc. Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts
Candidates for Miami-Dade County Court
The formatting and notation below is similar to that of the above. Here is where you can find the rationale for the Herald’s recommendations explained in full, and here is where you can find the voters guide from UM School of Law’s Michael Froomkin.
Renier Diaz de la Portilla
inc. Fred Seraphin – Miami Herald endorsement
Resources for both the circuit and county court races
Ballotpedia has profiles of varying detail on many of the judicial candidates. The Miami-Dade Bar association poll shows how the local legal community is leaning (though as Michael Froomkin notes, it’s hard to know how representative the numbers are given the potential for low participation in the poll).
I also offer up this article and this article from Elaine “Ladra” de Valle, award-winning journalist and publisher of watchdog blog Political Cortadito, with the caveat that the reporting, while valuable, is also opinionated.
Have an additional resource you’d like to share? Email it to [email protected]