Fleur Lobree and Diana Lewis ()
Three incumbent circuit judges–Miami-Dade’s Fleur Lobree, Broward’s Steven Feren and Palm Beach’s Diana Lewis–looked like they were on their way out in Tuesday’s judicial primary.
Related: Judicial Election Results Are In
With 100 percent of the Miami-Dade vote tallied, Lobree was lost her judgeship for a second time in four years. Hialeah attorney Mavel Ruiz carried 54 percent of the vote in their race.
Miami-Dade County Court Judge Nuria Saenz was upset by contract attorney Victoria Ferrer with 64 percent of the vote.
County Court Judge Jacqueline Schwartz is heading for a November runoff against Frank Bocanegra, a former police officer turned assistant public defender.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rodney Smith was cruised to re-election with 63 percent of the vote, besting personal injury attorney Christian Carrazana.
“I am so proud to be a judge and represent all the people of this community and obviously our message resonated and my victory is a victory for all the people of Miami Dade,” Smith said. “It is truly a blessing to keep a judge who is humbled compassionate fair and experienced. It is a blessing from God.”
In a race for an open seat, Assistant Miami City Attorney Veronica Diaz with 57 percent of the vote beat Renier de la Portilla, a former state lawmaker and school board member.
“This is such an emotional moment for me. I am so grateful to God. So thankful to the people of Miami-Dade County,” Diaz said. “It shows that sometimes the people win and all the negative campaigning did not resonate and the people of our great community have put their trust in me and I will never violate that trust.”
Alberto Milian, the son of moderate Cuban exile voice Emilio Milian, also cruised to victory with 58 percent of the vote over family law practitioner Mary Gomez.
One race was very close. Martin Zilber, a corporate attorney who moonlights as a traffic magistrate, and Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts, a former congressional aide, state prosecutor and public defender, were one percentage point apart. Zilber received 50.76%, or 76,973 votes while Rodriguez-Fonts received 49.24%, or 74,659 votes.
In a race between former prosecutors, Stephen Thomas Millan with 65 percent of the vote bested Thomas Aquinas Cobitz. Millan ran for judge unsuccessfully in 2006 and 2008.
In Broward with 100 percent of the vote counted. Feren was unable to secure a second term, edged out by criminal defense attorney John Patrick Contini with 51 percent of the vote.
Contini, a first-time judicial candidate, came into the race as a former federal and state prosecutor with 30 years experience. He thanked his supporters at a Tuesday night gathering in Cigar Republic in Oakland Park.
William E. Lewis Jr., Contini’s social media coordinator, said Contini beat back a negative campaign.
Circuit Judge Lynn Rosenthal won her first election after being shaken by a May arrest for driving under the influence. She defeated Tamarac criminal defense attorney Frantz ‘Jahra’ McLawrence with 56 percent of the vote.
“My day was long but very fulfilling,” Rosenthal said of her final day of campaigning. “I had no expectations, so I’m thrilled with the results. This race was about me and my abilities and my credentials, and that’s all the race was about as far as I’m concerned.”
For McLawrence, it is another defeat. He ran a failed race in 2010 for a county court seat.
A four-way circuit court race ended with a runoff for Rhoda Sokoloff and Dennis Bailey. Andrea Ruth Gundersen and Russell M. Thompson were knocked out of contention.
Sokoloff, a general practice and family law attorney, may have benefited from name recognition; she ran an unsuccessful campaign for circuit judge in 2012.
Bailey also runs with some name recognition. The foreclosure attorney is the brother of Broward Circuit Judge Tim Bailey.
A second open circuit seat was won by Stacey Schulman, a Greenspoon Marder associate in Fort Lauderdale with more than 55 percent of the vote. She defeated Julie Shapiro Harris, an attorney in the Broward Clerk of Court’s domestic violence unit.
County Court Judge Ian Richards with 43 percent of the vote is heading to a runoff with Claudia Robinson, a former assistant public defender and police union lawyer now in private practice, who collected 33 percent.
County Judge Ellen Feld handily beat Mark W. Rickard, with almost 66 percent of the vote.
In complete Palm Beach results, prominent foreclosure defense and family law attorney Jessica Ticktin upset Lewis, who has been on the bench for 11 years.
“It’s been a pretty crazy evening,” Ticktin said of election night. “We came into it having no idea how we were going to do, and it seems like we’ve done quite well. I’m honored by the trust that has been placed with me and I look forward to making sure that justice is served here with respect and civility.”
The well-funded Ticktin ran a hard-hitting campaign, going around the county criticizing her opponent’s 2013 evaluation by the Palm Beach County Bar Association. Members gave Lewis among the lowest ratings in several categories, putting Lewis on the defensive in the judicial primary.
Ticktin closed out her opponent by taking 55 percent of the vote with more than 99 percent of precincts counted.
Employment law attorney Jaimie Goodman jumped to a commanding lead for an open Palm Beach circuit seat. Goodman took over 55 percent of the votes to avoid a runoff with either family law attorney Peggy Rowe-Linn or foreclosure defense attorney Maxine Cheesman.
“I feel very good, and I’m grateful to the people of Palm Beach County for the faith they’ve shown in me to be their next elected circuit court judge,” Goodman said late Tuesday. He will fill a seat being vacated by retiring Circuit Judge Lucy Chernow Brown.