Eleventh Circuit, Group 49
Former Miami City Commissioner Victor De Yurre, a long-time civil-law attorney, is competing with Teresa Mary Pooler, whose career has been in criminal law. Mr. De Yurre, 59, was a Miami commissioner from 1987 to 1995. He has been a lawyer for 35 years, and through his commission stint, is a familiar figure in Greater Miami. He joined in two lawsuits in the 1990s that ended in the commission switching from at-large to district seats. In addition to practicing real-estate and commercial law, he is a traffic magistrate and seems to take a great deal of pleasure from the job.
Ms. Pooler, 58, has 31 years of trial and appellate work, primarily criminal defense and juvenile cases.
She was with the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office between 1981 and 1990 and served as director of a project called the Children’s Center, a program designed to reduce the trauma to child victims of crimes.
She left the state attorney’s office to set up her private practice in 1990. She also served as a traffic magistrate from 1999 to 2009 and ran unsuccessfully for a circuit-court seat in 2004.
Our choice is Ms. Pooler, in part for her very extensive trial work, always an asset on the bench, and also for her direct approach to legal responsibilities and duties.
In addition to her hands-on court work, Ms. Pooler taught law courses at Florida International University from 2004 to 2007. Her community work includes a stint on the board of directors of the Health Crisis Network in the late 1990s and continued work with the Humane Society.
One of the judges she most admires is Circuit Court Judge Cindy Lederman, long a judicial advocate for at-risk children in the state’s foster-care system.
Ms. Pooler cites her early career experiences with child-abuse victims and work in dependency court, along with serving as a guardian ad litem, as convincing her that judges in the Juvenile Division do the “most important work in the entire court system. You can save lives in the juvenile division,” she says with emphasis.
For Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Group 49, The Miami Herald recommends TERESA MARY POOLER.
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY COURT
County Group 27
Ivonne Cuesta, 39, a Miami-Dade assistant public defender, and Jacci Suzan Seskin, 58, a Miami-Dade assistant state attorney are running for this open seat.
Both have interesting back stories and both are qualified. Ms. Cuesta came here at age 7 during the Mariel Boatlift with her mother. Her father wasn’t allowed to leave, but instead was imprisoned and persecuted by the Castro regime.
Father and daughter didn’t reunite until 15 years later. Because of the injustice in her native land, Ms. Cuesta says she is passionate about the law in the United States, especially after seeing her father experience Communist Cuba’s “legal system of men, not laws.” She earned her law degree in 2001, and says there was never a question of any other career.
Ms. Seskin’s first career was as a nurse. She had an unhappy childhood, ending up on her own at 16. She decided to become a nurse and spent 20 years tending to the ailing before opting to enter law school in 1999.
After graduating in 2002, Ms. Seskin went to work for the Miami-Dade public defender’s office. In 2005 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and one of her three children has a chronic illness that required extra care. Ms. Seskin prevailed, however, raising her three children and beating the cancer. In 2006, she signed on with the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office.
Both candidates’ backgrounds, legal and life experiences make them suitable for county court, but in this race we’re recommending Ms. Cuesta, who has been nominated for a judgeship four times by the Judicial Nominating Commission. Ms. Seskin should give herself more trial experience and run again.
Ms. Cuesta has tried more than 75 jury trials and believes that, in every case, “the lawyer must establish a relationship with the client and his family. You have to understand them all in order to make a good defense.”
County court judges have to spend a lot of time on the bench counseling plaintiffs who aren’t legally represented. It’s a case of asking questions, probing for the plaintiffs’ own back stories, so to speak, in order to make sure of a fair and just outcome.
Ms. Cuesta fits that bill.
For Miami-Dade County Court Group 27, The Miami Herald recommends IVONNE CUESTA.