Select Page
Professor H. Scott Fingerhut was sought for comment by the Daily Business Review on the propriety of a Miami-Dade judicial candidate’s sudden name change in order to curry favor with voters to win election.

Teresa Tylman has opted not to run for judge using her maiden name, but by her married name, Cervera, though previously she has not gone by Cervera, personally or professionally.

“The reason people play the ‘name game’ in popular elections is because it works,” Professor Fingerhut is quoted.  “Not always, but often enough.  And often to unseat qualified judges.”

“Ms. Tylman is by no means the only Miami example of attempting to name-game the system, divert voter attention from merit, and bait a baitable electorate with identity-based, tribal catnip,” Professor Fingerhut continued.  “But she is the latest, and her strategy is transparent.”

“What we are struggling with at bottom is how best to ensure that Americans get to live their best lives — as some might phrase, to form that more perfect union,” Professor Fingerhut said, “a project which teeters, in critical part, on this essentiality: maintaining a politically independent, supremely qualified judiciary, for the People.”

And nothing is more important than judicial integrity.

“That is why Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct makes clear that a candidate shall not knowingly misrepresent their identity.  And having neither lived, nor practiced law, by this ‘new’ name before, that is precisely what Ms. Tylman is doing.  Indeed, to call hers a mere ‘misrepresentation’ is kind.  What it is is a public fraud.”

“While no judicial seat is guaranteed,” Professor Fingerhut concluded, “in light of Ms. Tylman’s seeming lack of qualifications to serve as judge, her decision to run against an experienced, respected incumbent — Judge Lody Jean —  based on name-recognition alone is foul play and must cause our community to question why.”

“May we agree that this is not how anyone should win election?  And is it not more troubling that a candidate for judge would even want to become judge this way?”

Read Professor Fingerhut’s comments in the DBR here.

Professor Fingerhut is Assistant Director of the Trial Advocacy Program at FIU Law.  He teaches Trial Advocacy, Pretrial Practice, and Criminal Procedure.  He is dually appointed as a Fellow in The Honors College at FIU, where he serves as pre-law advisor and teaches the upper-division seminar Observing Ourselves.

Reach him at 305-348-8095 and