The Miami Herald wraps up its judicial recommendations with these three seats: Miami-Dade County, Group 20
Miami-Dade County Court Judge Fleur Jeannine Lobree has attracted one challenger, Michelle Alvarez Barakat.
Ms. Alvarez Barakat, 40, has experience in commercial litigation, foreclosures and tenant-landlord disputes, and she has worked on a contract basis with the public defender’s office in the mental health unit.
In this race, though, Judge Lobree, who was appointed to the bench last year, is our choice based on her stellar legal mind, vast courtroom experience and civic works.
We hope the personable Ms. Alvarez Barakat applies through the rigorous Judicial Nominations Commission process for an open seat in the future.
A member of the Florida Bar for almost 20 years Judge Lobree, 43, served as a prosecutor for nine years before being tapped for the Group 20 court seat. As a prosecutor she tried high-profile death penalty cases and screened cases for the office to file state appeals.
Judge Lobree also served about five years as an assistant attorney general, from 1992-1997, and was lead counsel in more than 350 appellate or other proceedings in state and federal courts. She has earned the support of top jurists like former Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero.
As a county court judge she has worked in both the criminal and civil division and was recently appointed as an acting circuit judge to preside over administrative and agency appeals, domestic violence cases and divorces. A cancer survivor, she says that journey taught her “both humility and strength” and she mentors other cancer survivors.
For Miami-Dade County Court, Group 20, The Miami Herald recommends FLEUR JEANNINE LOBREE
.Miami-Dade County, Group 24
Judge Andrea Wolfson is the incumbent in this seat. She was appointed two years ago by then-Gov. Charlie Crist, which means that she was a well-vetted nominee for the position. She spent the bulk of her career as an assistant state prosecutor in Miami-Dade. Since her appointment in 2010, she has presided over the wide variety of cases found in county court: DUI, civil, domestic violence, traffic and uncontested divorces.
She served for nine months in the Hialeah Branch Courthouse. Because she wanted to preside over jury trials, she was granted a transfer to the Gerstein building in downtown Miami in March 2011.
Ms. Wolfson, 39, has two challengers, both experienced attorneys: Greer Wallace, 58, is in private practice. Over 32 years, she says, she has handled more than 700 cases. And she has racked up several victories from appeals court in the sensitive area of juvenile dependency; Arthur Spiegel, 54 — who in the 1980s interned under then-Dade State Attorney Janet Reno — likewise has taken on a diversity of cases during his years in private practice.
Ms. Wolfson is an energetic judge who volunteers to sit in an appellate capacity over administrative matters and who has attended the Faculty Training Seminar that will allow her to teach at the Florida Judicial College. This incumbent has earned a full term and deserves to keep her seat.
For Miami-Dade County Court, Group 24, The Miami Herald recommends ANDREA WOLFSON
.Miami-Dade County, Group 40
Judge Don Cohn won election to the county bench in 2006 after three decades in practice, mostly in criminal law. Now he seeks to be reelected. He has served in the civil and domestic violence divisions of the court.
Mr. Cohn, 62, is being challenged by attorney Lourdes Cambo, an attorney with a breadth of experience in worker’s compensation, Social Security, personal injury and family law. She says that she is a strong advocate for “the people” and as a judge she would be able to help people navigate what can be a Byzantine system. She also is a family mediator. Given her experience, she should try again for a judicial seat.
The Miami Herald gives the nod to Mr. Cohn, who though somewhat lackluster as he discusses his status as someone the community relies upon to mete out justice, has become a more-seasoned jurist, which is just what the “people’s court” needs.
For Miami-Dade County Court, Group 40, The Miami Herald recommends DON COHN