You Be the Judge

Leslie Rothenberg

In the past, New Times has questioned the suitability of Judge Leslie Rothenberg for her seat on the Third-District Court of Appeal, given her tendency to mouth off on matters that will likely fall before her in court.

Now Rothenberg is up for election. She's not running against anyone. Judges simply run on their record in order to retain their seats. The Miami Herald blanket-endorsed all sitting judges, stating that no one had been involved in scandal and all passed a Dade County Bar Association poll of lawyers. Tellingly, Rothenberg scored the lowest in the poll with 72 percent approval. That means 31 percent, 277 of the lawyers, did not believe she should remain a judge (409 had no opinion, 612 voted "yes"). Her two colleagues on the Third DCA, Richard Suarez and Angel Cortinas, had far lower negative ratings (13 and 20 percent respectively).

Two years ago, in her unsuccessful bid to become State Attorney, she pandered to the Christian Family Coalition by signing a pledge opposing gay marriage while promoting a religious agenda. Now she's drawn the ire of one very committed gadfly, Darrin McGillis, who was so angered in part by how a case of his was handled by her, he started in June. McGillis says his case involved accusations of homosexual taunting. He also points out that a county court judge who initially ruled in his favor on a motion is openly gay. That motion was overturned by another judge, and upheld by the 3rd DCA. McGillis now says Rothenberg should have recused herself.

McGillis has his own agenda — to preserve a favorable ruling — but because Rothenberg is on the record about such issues, she's vulnerable to these attacks.

Rothenberg was one of many politically active conservative judges appointed to fill vacancies by Gov. Jeb Bush. This time, voters get to have their say.-Tristram Korten

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Frank Houston