Manny Alvarez, a senior appellate attorney at the public defender’s office, is running for Newman’s seat.
Alvarez, 49, filed the paperwork Tuesday morning. A member of his campaign staff notified the judge’s office that afternoon.
Born in Cuba, Alvarez grew up in Miami-Dade County and graduated from University of Miami’s law school in 1986. He has spent most of the last 24 years as an assistant public defender. Since then, he’s bounced back and forth from public defense to private practice and back, and he’s now a senior appellate attorney at the state-funded organization.
By his own count, he’s written more than 800 appeals and appeared before the Florida Supreme Court for oral argument eight times. He was also the co-recipient of the 1998 ACLU Act of Courage Award.
Alvarez’s decision to run makes Newman only the second county judge involved in a race so far. The other race is between incumbent Judge Flora E. Seff and Michaelle Gonzalez-Paulson.
"I’ve been at this for a quarter of a century. This was the right moment," Alvarez said. He noted that as an appellate lawyer, he’s been through several trials and read through enough transcripts to know how to "run a fair and substantive courtroom."
He also hinted at why he set his sights on Newman’s seat.
"This is where I can make the best contribution to improve the quality of the bench," he said. "I think it’s important to have a judge with an appropriate temperament and knowledge of the law."
Newman is a former Miami Dolphins offensive guard who was a rookie during the team’s 1973 trip to the Super Bowl. He has served as a criminal court judge for 10 of his last 16 years on the bench.
"I’m looking forward to finishing my career. I’m at the prime of my career," he said. "I’m going to fight to retain my position."
Newman, 58, noted he generally has "a good relationship with those who come before me." He called himself "the seasoned kind of candidate people have come to trust."