Playing to a packed Broward County Courthouse jury room, nine newly elected or appointed judges celebrated their formal robing ceremonies by thanking family, mentors, friends and cracking a few jokes.
County Court Judge Christopher Pole, a veterans and insurance defense lawyer, made cracks about his years-long quest to become a judge.
Unlike all the other rookie judges, Pole acknowledged he had been inundated with questions about who had the record for the number of times a candidate had applied for an appointment, “me or (Broward Circuit Judge) Raag Singhal, and the answer is I don’t know. I lost count.”
Pole said he knew he had been to Tallahassee too often when the cab drivers had his cell phone number, texted him a Merry Christmas and asked when he would be back. And most especially when the governor’s office interviewer had just one question for him, “What’s new?”
I want to thank the Broward County Judicial Nominating Commission for not losing faith in me and continuing to send my name up to Governor Scott, and all the other governors,” Pole said.
Along with Pole, the other appointees sworn in Friday were Circuit Judges Lynn Rosenthal and Elizabeth Scherer.
Candidates who were elected to the bench included Circuit Judges Tim Bailey, Ari Abraham Porth, Michael Rothschild and Laura Watson, and County Court Judges Olga Levine and Kathleen McHugh.
Of the elected judges, none had a more daunting campaign than former criminal defense attorney McHugh, who realized near the election filing deadline she would go up against a well-known veteran politician, County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman.
“When I found out, the blood just rushed out of my head,” McHugh said. “I thought my hopes and dreams had been smashed.”
She admitted that for a while she considered dropping out. Her win was a startling upset, and everywhere McHugh went she said people asked how in the world she beat Lieberman.
“I tell them what my campaign manager told me, ‘You’re not going to run against her. You’re going to run around her.’ ”
McHugh avoided Lieberman’s district, staying out of Tamarac and Margate. She focused on the rest of the county and won it.
One of the more sentimental journeys to the podium had to be that of Michael Rothschild, who replaced his father, former Circuit Judge Ronald Rothschild. The son was garbed in the same robe his father wore for 22 years.
“If I could stand in his shoes and be half the man he was in this building, I know that I will have a long and successful career,” Rothschild said.