38 comments

  1. Bill Simon says:

    Dang it, Erick! Don’t cloud our courts up with rules on length of time one has to serve!

    Next thing you’ll be wanting is someone living in this country a certain number of years before they can run for office.

  2. Doug Deal says:

    Can’t you practice in Geogia as a third year law student under the guidence of another attorney?

    If so, that could make it 7 years, if his third year started in the fall of 2001.

  3. HollyJ says:

    Whew!!! I was scared there for a minute…I thought Chatham County was the only county in Georgia that had some young lawyer trying to run for office in our case its district attorney and his name would be will claiborne at least Rothenberg has tried a criminal case…claiborne has been doing divorce work his entire legal career all two years of it….

  4. Chris says:

    Maybe he was practicing before the passed the bar. Didja think of that mr. smarty-pants?

    🙂 for the sarcasm impaired.

  5. David Farnham says:

    Thanks for the opportunity to respond. I am Michael’s Campaign Manager. Michael would have posted, but he is in Court today.

    Before deciding to enter this race, we spent 3 months thoroughly researching this issue, reading tons of cases, statutes, consulting with lawyers, qualifications people. Michael is a very thoughtful person, a great lawyer and he would never have entered this race if the law stated otherwise. This is not some young guy just jumping into a race without forethought.

    Michael believes in the separation of powers, in not legislating from the bench, in fairness and equality for all that pass before him. In 2007 he was one of the youngest judges ever appointed when he was appointed a part time judge in DeKalb Recorder’s Court. He has handled cases in most areas of law throughout this state.

    Firstly regarding qualifications, he was admitted to the GA Bar on October 30, 2002. I know this because but for a court hearing I had that ran long that day, I was scheduled to be at the ceremony.

    Secondly, the statute literally states you have to be practicing law “seven years”. It does not say anything else. Michael will be in his seventh year on election day. Furthermore, he will have practiced law in GA in each of the last seven years – 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008.

    Thirdly, Michael did practice law as a third year law student beginning in May 2001. He worked on cases pro bono for indigents who could not afford lawyers and he handled all types of cases, including civil rights, consumer rights, contract disputes, post conviction work, etc. He was supervised by licensed attorneys.

    It has long been the law in GA that a third year law student may practice law under the supervision of a licensed attorney. That’s the law almost everyone in the country. Most law schools have clinica dedicated to this type of work and nearly every DA, including metro Atlanta DA’s, employ third year law students and let them prosecute cases. This time counts towards any qualifications.

    The GA Supreme Court has stated that third years “may assist in proceedings within this state as if admitted and licensed to practice law in this state”.

    I have been a lawyer since 1986 here in GA. I would not attach my name to him unless I knew he was qualified. Based on the intense research and thorough review of our law, Michael qualifies. He will be an excellent judge.

    I respectfully encourage you to investigate the record of Michael’s opponent. There is a lot of concern in DeKalb about this record and Michael is in this race to bring something different to the court.

    I am sorry for the long response. Michael is always available for questions or comments. He is open to everyone. His e-mail is michael[at]michaelforjudge.com.

    Thank you for the opportunity to post and I know Michael enjoys reading your blog.

  6. heroV says:

    It’s funny (pathetic?) how in his Bar directory listing he already uses “Hon.” before his name. You have to win the election first, buddy.

  7. David Farnham says:

    As I said earlier, Michael is a part time Judge in DeKalb County Recorder’s Court, therefore it would be proper to address him as “Hon”.

    Interestingly, earlier today the title “honorable” did not appear on the State Bar web site but now it does. We contacted the Bar and they said the directory was undergoing updating or maintenance or something. Michael asked them to change it back to “Mr.” as he had it before.

    Thanks for bringing that to our attention!

  8. JRM2016 says:

    Hey everyone. I would check out Op. Atty. Gen. 76-28. It states that a third year law student who assists another attorney under the third year is not duly admitted and licensed to practice for the purpose of determining eligibility to serve as a district attorney. Wouldn’t this apply to the above situation?

    I think the Board of Elections on its own can move to disqualify him, but if they don’t the only action that would work would be for a citizen to contest his qualification.

    I don’t know if Georgia has any procedure to remove him if he is elected and does not fit the qualifications.

    I will say that I don’t think there is any magic to having practiced law for 7, 10 or 20 years as far as being qualified to be on the bench.

  9. Taft Republican says:

    There’s no “magic” to having practiced law at ALL, as far as being qualified to be on the bench.

    In fact, we should go back to how it used to be, and remove that qualification entirely. Go even further: if you’ve practiced law, you’re disqualified from being a judge.

  10. Doug Deal says:

    Taft,

    Since the Bar Association of Georgia is administered by the SCOGA, and all practicing lawyers (save a few minor exceptions) must be members, lawyers should be disqualified from serving in the legislative or executive branches of government due to the principle of separation of powers.

    However, since lawyers are the only ones that would decide this issue’s constitutionality, don’t count on my view prevailing.

  11. Rogue109 says:

    As I said earlier, Michael is a part time Judge in DeKalb County Recorder’s Court, therefore it would be proper to address him as “Hon”.

    Proper? Yes.

    Pompous for a part-time judge in traffic court? Definitely.

  12. David Farnham says:

    I have not read the AG’s opinion cited above yet however, in our research we did come across similar issues with DA’s and their qualifications. (I note the AG’s opinion seems to be from 1976). The DA qualification statute is very specific and exact and is drastically different from the superior court judge statute. Furthermore, the cases related to DA’s usually centered around issues where a DA had practiced in one state for a year but in GA only two (when the qualification stated 3). Back in those days GA had no Bar reciprocity with other states as it does now so the rulings were a bit different then.

    If any of you enjoy history, and legal history specifically, the cases we read in our research are wonderfully written and provide insight on how GA courts ran back in the early part of the 20th century. It is quite fascinating. Back then, the main question was whether a person had obtained enough legal knowledge equivalent to what one could obtain in X years. The main intent of the legislature always has been to find dedicated people who knew the law or knew how to locate it.

    But I do think the discussion has been most interesting. Please know that our position is well researched and well intentioned. And we do appreciate the comments and questions.

    Thanks

  13. David Farnham says:

    Regarding the “Hon.” title…please know that Michael did not ask the Bar that his name state “Hon”. When it was noticed it was corrected.

    Thanks.

  14. JRM2016 says:

    To David,

    I haven’t read the AG’s opinion, just the annotation to the SOS document on qualifications and disqualifications. I personally believe that requiring someone to be a licensed attorney in good standing with the State Bar of Georgia for any judicial office would be sufficient.

    Has the Board of Elections given you any idea if they will not qualify Mr. Rothenberg?

  15. Rogue109 says:

    Also, be sure to check out his first campaign ad:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I3YVrxpIg8

    Based on this, his campaign platform appears to be his ability to stand in front of the old courthouse and look suave. Oh, he also has evidently mastered the ability to get behind the bench in State or Superior Court and have his photo taken next to the State Seal.

    “Every generation needs a new revolution,” his ad starts. Good to see he won’t just follow the law: he’ll be leading a REVOLUTION!

  16. Bill Simon says:

    “7 years” seems to imply a minimum of 2,555 days.

    Frankly, if he was admitted to the bar on October 30, 2002, that constitutes a little over 6 years of time as a lawyer, not anywhere near “7 years” or 2,555 days.

    Here is the math in years:

    1 year of service occurs on October 30, 2003.
    2 years of service occurs on October 30, 2004.
    3 years of service occurs on October 30, 2005.
    4 years of service occurs on October 30, 2006.
    5 years of service occurs on October 30, 2007.
    6 years of service occurs on October 30, 2008.

    The 3 extra days until the November 2008 election CANNOT constitute any acceptable fraction of a “7th year” as to constitute being in line with the statute.

    Of course, I’m just an engineer by training…what the hell do I know about math?

  17. Rogue109 says:

    David:

    I have not read the AG’s opinion cited above yet however, in our research we did come across similar issues with DA’s and their qualifications. (I note the AG’s opinion seems to be from 1976).

    So what? That makes it somehow “stale?”

    Please know that our position is well researched and well intentioned. And we do appreciate the comments and questions.

    Well intentioned, eh? Why didn’t you say so before? And how “well researched” is it if you weren’t even aware of the previously mentioned AG opinion?

    How about you post some citations to your research so we can learn more about how Rothenberg is free and clear to lead his “revolution”?

    Also, is Rothenberg still “in court” or shall we continue to expect to hear from you alone?

    Thanks!

  18. DoubleDawg3 says:

    Geez, leave the guy alone…it’s okay to question if he’s technically qualified or not, but a lot of you are taking it to a personal level.

    Commend the guy for running (most people just like to run their mouth and never actually put forth the effort to go before the voters in an election). Whether or not he’s actually practiced 6 or 7 years is important, due to the statutory requirements, but it’s not for anyone on this site to decide…I’m sure that his eligibility to run will be taken up and decided soon enough.

  19. Rogue109 says:

    Geez, leave the guy alone…it’s okay to question if he’s technically qualified or not, but a lot of you are taking it to a personal level.

    How?

  20. Katherine says:

    Well, here is an interesting side note to this discussion. I read Michael’s Campaign Manager’s comments about the concern in Dekalb County about the judge he is trying to unseat which is Superior Court Judge Gail Flake.
    You should google her name and see what people say about her record in custody cases and how she treats child molesters. Also, if you research her reversal record with the Supreme Court of Georgia and the Court of Appeals, she has been reversed nearly 60% of the time. Wow, can you imagine a judge who is wrong more than half the time. If you look at recent decisions since January 2008, Gail Flake has been reversed by the high courts 3 out of the last 4 decisions. So this year she is wrong 75% of the time. One of the cases I read was an armed robbery case which was appealed by the Defendant pro se, and Flake was reversed by the court and the conviction was overturned. Hey, I don’t know about you guys, but Michael Rothenberg may be young but he sure sounds like a big improvement over Flake. She sounds like a flake.

  21. DoubleDawg3 says:

    Rogue,

    You basically seem to be implying that the guy is a liar…that he clearly knew he was not eligible and that he and his campaign were intentionally skirting the rules. Maybe they were, maybe they weren’t – but who are you to decide that?

    I’m not sure if the local elections board or a state judicial board oversees that judicial candidates are in fact qualified to run, but I’m positive that some board some where will take this issue up and I’m equally positive that you aren’t on it (as badly as you wish you were)!

    I also thought your line about the guy still being “in court” was a somewhat catty remark – maybe the guy actually IS busy and doesn’t have time to talk crap on a blog.

    Also – who the hell are you to be a campaign ad critic? Virtually every candidate running for office does the same thing your whining about (having the photo taken in front of the seal…usually there’s a United States and Georgia flag in the photo too) .

    Do you realize the restraints upon candidates campaigning for a judicial office? What’s he supposed to put in his ad – he certainly can’t say, “I’m a Democrat, just like you…I’m a huge Obama fan, just like you, so Vote for Me!” I mean, it’s tough to say how the court system needs improvement, and what the greatest obstacles to justice are in a 60 second YouTube video.

    Get over yourself…if you want to ask “probing questions” go to law school and become a ADA in some podunk town so you can grill people until your heart’s content. But make darn sure you’ve practiced for a FULL 7 years (or 2,555 days as Bill Simon pointed out) before you even think about running to be a judge in that podunk town.

  22. Bill Simon says:

    DDawg,

    Maybe it’s just tonight, but you don’t appear to be able to interpret blog posts very well.

    Rogue asked you HOW he was being “personal” in his questioning of Rothenberg’s qualifications. You didn’t answer that but proceeded to lay-in ad hominem attacks against him.

    And, by the way, I’m pretty sure Rogue IS already an attorney.

  23. Bill Simon says:

    Katherine,

    The incumbent judge may be the most liberal, most incompetent person on the bench…but that doesn’t excuse a candidate who wants to run against her to be ignoring the legal qualifications required before he is eligible to run against her.

    Ever heard of this thing called “Rule of Law?”

  24. Rogue109 says:

    DoubleDawg3:

    You basically seem to be implying that the guy is a liar…that he clearly knew he was not eligible and that he and his campaign were intentionally skirting the rules. Maybe they were, maybe they weren’t – but who are you to decide that?

    Hmmm, I’m a citizen and I have free speech protections. Does that count? You seem to have no problem telling me to shut up…why can’t I ask Rothenberg to speak up?

    I also thought your line about the guy still being “in court” was a somewhat catty remark – maybe the guy actually IS busy and doesn’t have time to talk crap on a blog.

    Is this your first week on PP? Good Lord, just wait until you read another front page poster and how that person treats other people. And if he doesn’t have time to address a serious issue concerning his qualifications, then doesn’t that raise questions about his abilities to begin with?

    Also – who the hell are you to be a campaign ad critic?

    Who the hell are you to tell me I can’t criticize (grin)?

    Do you realize the restraints upon candidates campaigning for a judicial office? What’s he supposed to put in his ad – he certainly can’t say, “I’m a Democrat, just like you…I’m a huge Obama fan, just like you, so Vote for Me!”

    Maybe he could have put in his ad just a few of his “new technology” proposals that he lists in detail on his website? But, that’s right, no one can criticize him, right? My bad. Will we still not be permitted to criticize him on his rulings if he’s elected?

    Get over yourself…if you want to ask “probing questions” go to law school and become a ADA in some podunk town so you can grill people until your heart’s content.

    Okay. Already done on both counts. Was there anything else you wanted? Take care!

    I’ll be sure to keep your comments in mind if you ever dare to question someone.

  25. DoubleDawg3 says:

    Look, personally, I don’t think the guy is technically qualified to run – I’ve always interpreted the seven year rule to require seven full years of practice.

    As for this being “personal”…I thought your post at 3:38PM was purely of the personal nature, it had nothing to do with the topic of this thread and it was merely a way to mock his campaign.

    This isn’t directly specifically at you, but I think a lot of “political commentators” are too quick to criticize candidates for reasons that aren’t justified. Here, the guy seems to have some legitimate reasons for running…the Judge he’s running against seems to have some obvious negative issues surrounding herm, so there shouldn’t be an issue over whether the guy’s Steven Spielberg or not on his YouTube clip.

    As for “keeping my comments in mind”…fair enough, but I’ll go ahead and tell you that largely the only time I will opine on or criticize someone on this site is in 1 of 3 situations – either Sonny did something stupid, Glenn Richardson did something that pompous asses like him do, or someone else in general is being a horses rear end.

    As for the “law school / ADA” comment…I must say that I saw that coming. See, I originally thought that you would have been an ADA at some point in your life, but then I thought otherwise, simply b/c of the time commitment involved in being an attorney. I guess Mr. Rothenberg is actually too busy with his client base, such that he doesn’t have time to comment on here.

    You take care as well… come back and see us now, ya hear?

  26. Icarus says:

    “As for “keeping my comments in mind”…fair enough, but I’ll go ahead and tell you that largely the only time I will opine on or criticize someone on this site is in 1 of 3 situations – either Sonny did something stupid, Glenn Richardson did something that pompous asses like him do, or someone else in general is being a horses rear end.”

    That criteria will generally get you three or four opportunities per day.

  27. Rogue109 says:

    Look, personally, I don’t think the guy is technically qualified to run – I’ve always interpreted the seven year rule to require seven full years of practice.

    DoubleDawg3:

    Frankly, I’m still not sold on the idea that he IS disqualified. That’s why I think it a good idea to hear from him and his partner on this. But, for some reason, they remain silent.

    Regarding his client base: that may be, but since his client base is going to lose him totally in just a few months if he is elected, maybe he could take a few minutes out of his time to just post a sample of the massive “research” that confirms their position.

    If they are right, it’s a dead issue. Otherwise, his “Keith Gross” strategy of dealing with an issue is not serving him well. He’s already a judge, for Pete’s Sake (as we’ve been reminded), and it doesn’t seem to concern him that he’s in violation of the law.

    []simply b/c of the time commitment involved in being an attorney.

    Work smarter, not harder (grin)! Have a good weekend.

  28. Michael Rothenberg says:

    Hi everyone. I am sorry I could not respond sooner. I just got out of back to back to back civil jury trials.

    Regarding the qualification issue, the legal argument is rather lengthy. The long and short of it turns on the literal interpretation of the superior court judge qualification statute as it relates to other such statutes, such as Governor, State House, DA, state court judge etc. They are found in their respective code sections related to the office they seek. I would direct you to the text of those statutes and compare them line by line. Notice the language not present in the statute. Words, whether included or excluded by the legislature in a statute, have always been held to be very significant by our courts.

    I would also refer you to a very well written old case from our Supreme Court, Gazan v. Heery 183 Ga. 30, 187 S.E. 371 (1936). Its a rather long case but is still the law today and is an important part of the discussion.

    This is in addition to the work I did while a law student.

    Thank you all for your comments and questions. I really do respect your opinions and take them seriously, and enjoy the humor and sarcasm as well (where approrpiate 🙂 ). I will be out of town for a few days prior to the 4th, but feel free to e-mail me personally, I am always available for discussion.

    My best to you all, Happy 4th of July (early)

  29. Doug Deal says:

    Mr. Rothenberg,

    I don’t know you from Adam, but I must say that your side has handled itself very well in this situation here on P.P. Others could learn alot about tact and decency by reading this thread.

    Good luck on your defense of your qualification. You have a compelling case, and I think it is far from settled law.

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