Message From The President
Bryan A. Lober
On Wednesday, September 14, the Brevard County Bar Association hosted a candidate forum covering Group 9 (Circuit Judge), Group 2 (County Court Judge), and the Clerk of the Circuit Court race. This forum differed from our next most recent prior forum in that only candidates who made it through the August 30 primaries were asked to participate in this year’s event. Held at the Bernard Simpkins Fine Arts Center, in Cocoa, 1996 – 1997 BCBA Past President Jeffrey G. Thompson served as the event’s facilitator.
When I asked Jeff to facilitate the event, based upon our prior conversations, I did so anticipating that Jeff would ask questions that truly matter to voters, not simply marshmallow questions which seemingly beg for stock replies that bore audiences and offer little probative value.
Having attended a number of forums in the past, many of which have been palpably contentious and replete with ad hominem attacks, I admittedly had distinct preconceptions as to how the event could have played out. Though there were some remarkable disagreements, especially amongst the Clerk’s candidates, with the pointed nature of many of the questions, candidates were largely respectful of one another.
All judicial candidates were asked, among other meaningful questions, whether they have ever been grieved to the Florida Bar, whether they have ever been disciplined by any regulatory body, whether they have ever filed for bankruptcy, whether they have ever been arrested, how many trials they have conducted, and when their most recent trial took place.
Many in attendance appeared surprised by some of the responses to these and other questions. As a trial attorney, I am typically able to remain deliberately expressionless. However, I couldn’t help but smile at an imaginative response which included Barney Rubble sliding down a Brontosaurus. I suspect few in the audience have ever before heard a Flinstones reference at any prior event of this nature.
The audience was fairly diverse with attorneys, Clerk’s employees, and members of the general public in attendance. Among the attendees were BCBA Past Presidents Douglas R. Beam (1994 – 1995) and Gretchen K. Klayman (1998 – 1999). Reactions were disproportionately positive with several present openly having remarked on being refreshed by the forthright questions. Gauging from additional comments following the event, undecided voters, in particular, were provided sufficient information to make a more informed decision.
The Brevard County Bar Association’s thanks go out to BCBA Past President Jeff Thompson for moderating, John Glisch with Eastern Florida State College for securing the venue, Michael Stephens and the Sheriff’s Office for ensuring everyone’s safety, and to the candidates for making the evening memorable.