Nonpartisan candidate for County Judge, Group 27
Education: Juris doctorate, University of Florida, 2006
Occupation: Attorney in private practice
Home: Oakland Park
Past Political/Civic Experience: None
Q: What previous actions by you demonstrate that you have the honesty, integrity, ethics and personal character to be elected to the bench?
When my mother and I first arrived to this country, we had $200 to our name and not many personal belongings but a strong will and desire to make this country our new home. To say, I have come a long way is an understatement. I have worked very hard to achieve all I have thus far. Throughout my journey I never wavered in my belief of treating others how I want to be treated. To that end I have always been, and continue to be, respectful and ethical while being honest and keeping true to myself in every interaction I have with anyone. All of my current achievements and belongings I attribute to that hard work and I am very proud to say that all I have today is because I earned it. That is, nothing I have accomplished or own was merely given to me or wrongfully taken through deceit, malice or otherwise. I cannot help but attribute my strong beliefs in being honest and ethical to my diverse background and my mother's upbringing. Growing up in Overtown and Little Havana I certainly had ample opportunity to stray from those values. However, my mother's guidance and belief in me along with this country's opportunities, I feel, kept me on an honest and ethical path. In the spirit of keeping with the notion of looking to history to possibly foresee the future; my past not only exhibits my honesty and ethical character but also my resolve and perseverance.
Q: Why do you want to be a judge?
I am an immigrant of the United States and the daughter of a single mother. I know for a fact, had my mother not brought me to this country, I would not have had the opportunity to live the American dream. It is because I am forever grateful for the opportunities that this country has afforded me that I endeavor to serve the residents of Broward County as their Judge.
Q: What qualifications do you have that would make you a good judge?
I am certain that my diverse background experience, dedication, respect for others and fairness will make me a good judge. A County Court Judge in the people's court deals with numerous individuals from all walks of life. Therefore, I feel it's imperative to have a diverse background to help understand and view matters and individuals on a case-by-case basis. It simply makes a judge more human and not better or worse than individuals that come before that judge.
Q: What in your experience shows you can manage a court docket?
As a public defender, my highest caseload, at one given time, was 180 cases. Therefore, good time management and organization was vital to my competent representation of my clients. I had an opportunity to practice in both County and Circuit court and gained a solid understanding of how important effectively managing a court docket is. That experience gave me the invaluable insights that being on the bench in a timely fashion and being reasonably accessible were some of the important components to effective court docket management.
Q: Describe your legal experience or the work of your law practice and tell us how that has prepared you to be a judge?
As a public defender I gained invaluable Criminal Law experience and knowledge that I currently use and have furthered in my private practice. As the Assistant General Counsel for the Broward County PBA I gained knowledge and experience in, most notably: contract negotiations with various municipalities in Broward County; Labor and Employment Law as I represented members with labor disputes; Contract Law as I litigated contract grievances on behalf of the organization and members; and Administrative Law as I engaged in arbitrations and public hearings before the various municipalities, including the Broward County Commission, and dealt with Administrative agencies such as PERC (Public Employees Relations Commission). My legal experience in dealing with various tribunals and entities sharpened my skills of negotiating while being patient and respectful at all times. As a judge, the exercise of respect and controlled temperament is vital.
Q: Have you ever been a party to a lawsuit? If so, please explain?
I have never been a party to a lawsuit.
Q: How should a judge balance the rights of a defendant to have a fair trial with the rights of the public and the news media to observe pre-trial and trial proceedings?
An important part of our Justice System in the United States of America is the people's role in the process. Therefore, it is vital that the judicial system, not only appear, impartial and honest but it must also be fair and trustworthy. Therefore, the opportunity to allow the public in the courtroom is invaluable. However, a defendant's right to a fair trial is fundamental. Therefore, unless there is an extremely compelling reason where the media's presence jeopardizes the fairness of a proceeding, the public's right to know what occurs should not be tromped.
Q: What can judges do to improve productivity to alleviate the problems of clogged dockets?
In addition to maintaining a controlled temperament and respectful environment, a judge should also be organized and have good time management practices in place. A clogged docket could certainly be alleviated by, timely arriving on the bench, making sure matters are heard at the time they are scheduled, and not scheduling too many matters at the same time. Over crowded courtrooms just add more stress to an already stressful situation for all parties involved. Moreover, not addressing matters at the time they are scheduled only serves to frustrate all the parties involved. This frustration is sometimes worsened when the delay is not acknowledged and/or explained.
Q: What organizations or causes outside of the courtroom have you been involved in during the past two years and why?
NAACP – I volunteer at the biweekly Legal Redress where members of the community can come in and get free legal advice, if allowable and applicable. I do this because I don't think legal advice should only be something only those with money can afford. I also enjoy meeting people with inspiring stories and often find myself learning something from each and every one. 5K for Kids – as a family (5 kids, a husband and my mom) we have participated in this run every year. I endeavor to keep our children humble and grateful for all we have – our health, each other and our life. Food Drive and Donations – Throughout the year we donate to St. Anthony's Food Drives along with various other organizations and during the holidays, donate Turkeys and food to various organizations. It's important for me that I instill upon my children the importance of not feeling like you're better than anyone else and treating everyone with respect. As a result, I hope these little acts of kindness help guide them in that fashion.
Q: How as a judge will you work to promote a better understanding of the judiciary?
Educating our community is very important and certainly starts at a very young age. Therefore, I would like to speak at elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and local colleges and universities to promote a better understanding of the judiciary and educate our members of the community.
Q: What pro bono legal work have you done in the past three years?
In private practice, I sometimes encounter a situation where a prospect client is unable to pay for a private attorney. It is not until the end of our conversation (at the initial consultation), after we have developed a rapport, that inability to pay is discovered. Therefore, I have from time to time, represented them pro bono. I also volunteer with the NAACP as explained above.
Q: Have you in the past five years received any fees or compensation for work other than legal services from a business, association or organization of any kind? If so, please list those organizations.
I have not received any fees or compensation for work other than legal services in the past five years.
Q: Describing any additional education or training you have had in the past three years?
None that I haven't already covered.
Q: Is there anything said about you during this campaign by any of your opponents, that you'd like to clarify?
To the best of my knowledge or recollection, I can think of no comment made by any of my opponents that I think really had any credit thus far.