The Herald recommends

OUR OPINION: For County Courts

08/04/2014 3:13 PM

09/17/2014 3:25 PM

Miami-Dade County Court

GROUP 19

Incumbent judges often draw no opposition, and rarely more than one, but Judge Jacqueline Schwartz, 49, faces two challengers for her county court seat. They are Rachel Glorioso Dooley, 46, and Frank Bocanegra, 61.

Of the two challengers, Ms. Dooley has by far the most experience. She has been an attorney for 17 years, including a stint as a Miami-Dade prosecutor. She handles criminal defense and family matters and says she is running because it’s time for a change. She says she has the temperament and diligence to be a judge and to manage the huge caseloads in county court. She apparently is well thought of by colleagues, receiving campaign contributions from more than 50 local lawyers and law firms.

Mr. Bocanegra became an attorney in 2008 after finishing a career in law enforcement with the Miami-Dade Police Department. He retired as a major and briefly served as town manager of Miami Lakes. He says his managerial experience will serve him well in running a court. He currently works as a public defender.

Judge Schwartz has been on the bench ever since she defeated an incumbent in 2002. She says that she closes more cases than any other county court judge because she is diligent about managing the caseload and making sure that cases do not go unattended for prolonged periods. On the basis of her experience, for County Court in Group 19, the Miami Herald recommends JACQUELINE SCHWARTZ.

GROUP 36

Incumbent Nuria Saenz, elected in 2008, is being challenged by Victoria Ferrer, who has been in private practice for a decade.

Judge Saenz, 44, spent seven years at the Coral Gables Courthouse and is currently assigned to the civil division at the North Dade Justice Building where she handles small claims, civil, traffic and misdemeanor cases. Ms. Ferrer, 41, is a senior litigating attorney for the law offices of Gonzalez & Associates specializing in contract disputes, first-party insurance litigation, foreclosure defense and bankruptcy.

Ms. Saenz, who has been in the trenches, cites the biggest challenges in the Miami-Dade court system as a lack of resources and the high volume of cases. She says three qualities qualify her to retain her seat: “experience, the ability to be impartial and a strong work ethic.” She credits herself with moving cases along and avoiding backlogs in her courtroom. She says she had the least number of pending cases during her years at the Gables courthouse.

If elected, Ms. Ferrer said she will “rule consistent with the law and not provide certain parties or special interest groups preferential treatment. I will render my rulings with fairness and impartiality.”

Because of the experience that comes with incumbency, the Miami Herald recommends for Miami-Dade County Court in Group 36, NURIA SAENZ.

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