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In all of Florida’s 67 counties, circuit court is the highest court of law.

In the 17th circuit, group nine, Lea P. Krauss believes she is the most qualified to serve on the bench.

Related: Lea P. Krauss - Out and Proud Legal Eagle

“I have practiced law for over 16 years and I have handled a wide range of criminal and civil cases,” Krauss said in an exclusive interview with SFGN prior to speaking at the quarterly luncheon of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. “I have been in court nearly every day, and I have handled over 1,000 hearings from Key West to the Panhandle.”

In her experience, Krauss said she has noticed many find the courthouse an intimidating place.

“I have seen firsthand how scary and frustrating court can be for everyone,” Krauss said. “Let’s face it, our judicial system is adversarial in nature so each case has a winner and loser. The judge is the one person in the courtroom that shapes the entire experience for everyone. I am running to be circuit court judge because I want to make a difficult day in court just a little bit better.”

Krauss collected the most votes (59,473) in last month’s primary election, outpacing Andrea Ruth Gundersen (50,988) and Maxine K. Streeter (47,541). Florida election laws, however, require judicial candidates to win by more than 50 percent of the vote. Krauss got 38 percent, sending her and Gundersen (32 percent) into a run-off. Both candidates will appear on the general election ballot in November.

“I am the most qualified candidate in the race,” Krauss said. “There are two things that set me apart: the depth of my experience and my even-temperament. I am the only trial attorney in my race with over 50 jury trials. I am the only former prosecutor in my race. I am the only one in my race who has actually done both jury and bench trials in the last two years.”

Krauss has received endorsements from major organizations such as the Broward County Police Benevolent Association, Broward County Council of Professional Firefighters, Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, National Organization For Women, Puerto Rican Bar Association and Hispanic Vote.

A native of Long Island, New York, Krauss did her undergraduate studies in psychology and criminology at the University of Michigan. She attended law school at the University of Miami, where her introduction into the South Florida legal scene came as an intern in the Dade County Public Defender’s Office.

“I am the most qualified to hear both civil and criminal court cases and this seat will be assigned either criminal or civil cases after the election – judges do not get to pick what types of cases they preside over because it is up to the chief judge,” Krauss said. “Circuit court is the highest trial court and I am the only trial attorney and experience matters when dealing with serious cases. Circuit court criminal cases are the most serious criminal allegations, all the way up to death penalty cases and I am the only one in my race that has actually done first degree felony jury trials.”

A certified Florida Supreme Court family mediator and Guardian Ad Litem, Krauss married her partner, April Halle, last year.