Criminal defense attorney Lea Krauss is a powerful voice for South Florida’s LGBT community. Over the course of her 16-year career, she has worked on criminal and civil cases, representing victims as well as the accused — primarily women and children. Krauss is also active in a number of charitable and social service organizations. She is the president of the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers Network, a board member of The Pride Center and a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and Jewish Adoption and Family Care Options (JAFCO), just to name a few. Now, Krauss has a new career-defining position she plans on adding to her resume: circuit court judge.
Q: You’re heavily involved in several charitable and social service organizations. Why is that so important to you?
A: I grew up in a family where giving back was paramount. My family was involved in a number of organizations and my dad was honored a lot by the ACLU and a number of organizations. We were very involved with the temple. Service is a big part of who I am. If you give without your hand open, you receive much more. It’s a big reason why I’m running for judge.
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Q: What is one of the most important roles you’ve had so far?
A: I was on the board of The Pride Center. We were trying to increase diversity at the center and I was selected, as a woman, to increase programming for women. I volunteered to be the chair of what is now Women With Pride, which has since grown to be a full-time staff position. There are now incredible programs for women that didn’t exist before. It started as a referral center for LBT women for medical care and mental health services.
Q: What qualities do you think make you most qualified to become the next Circuit Court Judge?
A: I have been in court almost every day for 16 years and I have seen the difference a good judge can make. When people come to court, unless it’s for an adoption, it really is your worst experience, your worst nightmare. It’s frightening and it’s scary, and you don’t want to be there. But I’ve seen the difference that can be made by a judge who treats you with compassion, respect and who understands that you’re not just a file, you’re a person and your case is important. For me, that makes all the difference in the world.
Q: If you’re elected, what kind of impact do you think you can make in the LGBT community?
A: It’s important for people to understand that you don’t have to set foot in a courtroom to be impacted by the decisions made by Circuit Court and County Court judges. For example, a local judge in Dade County found the law banning LGBT people from adopting to be unconstitutional. Judges in Broward, Palm Beach and Dade also ruled on same-sex marriage. These decisions affect all of us.