Two circuit court judicial races are headed for a runoff on Nov. 8, with a former assistant state attorney and assistant public defender facing off in one race and a former U.S. Navy lawyer running against a Miami-Dade prosecutor in the other.
Mark Blumstein and Luis Perez-Medina beat two other contenders in a tight Aug. 30 primary race for the seat of Judge Gill Freeman, who retired this year. They are in Group 34.
Blumstein, 47, is a former Surfside commissioner who has also served as a U.S. Navy lawyer. He opened his own law firm, Blumstein & Associates, in 2008 and focuses on civil and commercial cases, including class-action lawsuits.
In the Navy, Blumstein served as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. He is a champion of the Veterans Court, a new initiative in Miami-Dade aimed at helping former soldiers navigate the court system.
“I’m probably the most unique candidate running for judge in that I have military experience, as well as private-sector litigation experience,” Blumstein said. “My motivation for running is obviously service-driven, specifically to assist veterans in our community.”
Perez-Medina, 56, has been an assistant state attorney since 2006. He has supervised felony attorneys and tried homicide cases, among other assignments, and worked his way up to the Public Corruption Unit, where he oversees investigations.
Prior to becoming an attorney, Perez-Medina was an insurance agent. He told the Miami Herald that he always wanted to be a lawyer but couldn’t afford to go to law school when he was younger. Perez-Medina started law school in 2001 and studied at night while working for Prudential Financial during the day.
“I was No. 1 in my class, I could have made a lot of money. But I decided I wanted to serve the community as a prosecutor, and I’ve been doing that for 10 years,” Perez-Medina said. “I want to continue doing that as a circuit court judge.”
Perez-Medina was born in Cuba. He said that his early experience living under a dictatorship inspired him to pursue a career in justice in the United States. “That’s why I want to do public service, because I’m grateful for what my country has given me and my family,” he said.
Carol Breece and Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts are vying for the open Group 52 seat, having defeated a third contender during the primary race. Neither candidate responded to interview requests.
Rodriguez-Fonts, 53, a former Miami city attorney and assistant Miami-Dade public defender, told the Herald’s editorial board that poverty is one of the top issues facing the judicial system. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Rodriguez-Fonts was a congressional aide to Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Lawrence J. Smith. He has also served as the chair of the Florida Bar Grievance Committee and is a founding partner in the law firm Alvarez Rodriguez-Fonts, LLP.
Breece, 56, is a former trial attorney and Miami-Dade assistant state attorney. She currently serves as the ethics counsel for the Broward County Inspector General’s Office, where she enforces ethics laws against public officials and employees.
Breece was born in Seoul, South Korea, to a Korean mother and an American father. If elected, she would be Miami’s first female Asian-American judge.