Miami Herald | EDITORIAL

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OUR OPINION: For Broward County Court

 
FELD
FELD

BROWARD COUNTY COURT

GROUP 18

This race pits incumbent Ellen Feld against Mark William Rickard, who has his own law firm. After two unsuccessful campaigns, Judge Feld was finally elected six years ago when she defeated incumbent Judge Julio Gonzalez, one of Broward’s few Hispanics on the bench.

As a county court judge, Ms. Feld, 56, handles misdemeanors, civil and some criminal cases. Recently, she said her docket has been chock-full of foreclosures and evictions — often emotionally charged cases that require a tempered, fair judge. During her years on the bench, Ms. Feld said she has disposed of more than 14,000 cases. In an era of case backlogs, that number is commendable.

Those who have gone in front of Ms. Feld say she deals with her calendar promptly and efficiently, but also with compassion.

Mr. Rickard, 54, says his legal knowledge is more extensive than the incumbent’s as he has handled a variety of cases, unlike Ms. Feld, whose career has been largely in civil law.

Although Mr. Rickard is a qualified candidate, Judge Feld appears to do a fine job and we see no reason for her not to be returned to the bench.

For that reason, the Miami Herald recommends ELLEN FELD in Group 18.

GROUP 27

Incumbent Ian Richards, 39, the first African-American judge elected countywide in Broward County when he won office in 2009, is facing two challengers: Claudia Robinson, 37, and Jonathan Kasen, 42.

While presiding in the domestic violence unit, Judge Richards cut the active caseload in his court by more than half, from more than 1,100 to under 500 cases, reducing waiting times considerably. “If you file a case,” he says, “be prepared to move forward.”

He’s proud of reducing the backlog, but he said everyone gets a chance to be heard. “I like to allow folks to talk.” Judge Richards is probably better known for presiding during a case in which he jumped over the bench to protect a witness who was being attacked by a man she had testified against. The judge is now in the civil division.

Ms. Robinson, a onetime public defender, has experience as a criminal lawyer. She also has knowledge of contract and employment law and said she gained knowledge of contract negotiations as a lawyer for the Broward County police association.

Mr. Kasen says that he has more legal experience than anyone else in the race, with 15 years under his belt and he, too, is a former public defender now in private practice in his own firm for 10 years. He says he has tried nearly 100 cases as lead counsel, including civil cases and murder cases.

In this race, Judge Richards deserves reelection on the basis of his record on the bench and the qualities he has shown both as a judge and as a manager of the huge number of pending cases, which continue to be a challenge for most judges in South Florida.

For Broward County Court, Group 27, the Miami Herald recommends IAN RICHARDS.

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