From suspense novels to a biography of Steve Jobs, a good book helps Ed Brodsky de-stress at the end of the day.
During the state attorney candidate’s long and heated campaign against John Torraco, Brodsky has needed it.
“I love reading,” said Brodsky, 47, chief assistant state attorney in the 12th Judicial District. “It takes me away.”
The career prosecutor’s favorite author is John Grisham. “It’s the story and suspense and courtroom drama that makes it interesting,” Brodsky said.
Ever since he filed to run to replace outgoing State Attorney Earl Moreland in Jan. 10, 2011, Brodsky’s life has taken on its own suspense and drama as a candidate.
He survived — by a 52.7% to 47.3% margin — a primary race against Peter Lombardo, a campaign that boiled over heatedly during a Tiger Bay Club debate. And he hasn’t let up in his campaigning even if his opponent, Torraco, a Democrat, lacks the name recognition and experience of Brodsky and levels charges of incompetence and waste against the state attorney’s office.
Brodsky endures it, just as he has as a prosecutor for the past 20 years. He finds refuge with his family, his dog, sports and P90X training.
“I was doing P90X before (Paul) Ryan,” Brodsky said.
Brodsky originally studied to become a police officer. When he took a criminal-law class his junior year of undergraduate study at the University of South Florida, he decided he wanted to become a lawyer. Brodsky knew he wanted to become a prosecutor.
After 20 years as a prosecuting attorney, Brodsky, has earned a reputation as a steady, competent prosecutor. He led the state attorney’s department that handles sex-crime cases and worked to strengthen laws against animal abuse and neglect.
Those who know him describe his temperament as even. One attorney described him as soft-spoken.
“He is certainly not a raging lunatic,” said Ron Filipkowski, a longtime criminal defense attorney who had supported Lombardo, before Lombardo’s GOP nomination loss to Brodsky. Filipkowski said he does not support either Brodsky nor Torraco.
“He has always been a competent prosecutor on the tougher side of the spectrum,” Filipkowski said.
Spending time with his Weimaraner, Mason, is one of his other de-stressers. He talks at length about his former Weimaraner companion, Bailey, who Brodsky and his wife, Kim, would take to the park or for long walks when Brodsky got home from work. The 14-year-old Weimaraner died last November.
“We would take him everywhere we could,” Brodsky said. “The minute we got home he wanted to go to the park.”
Brodsky and his wife have two children, Evan, 14, and Alexa, 11. Evan is a sports fanatic, like his dad, and this season the two have Tampa Bay Bucs season tickets. Brodsky got the season tickets when he thought the campaign would be a two-candidate race and over in August by the start of the football season.
“We spend a lot of time when we can (at games),” Brodsky said.
Brodsky is an avid Bucs and Tampa Bay Rays fan, and the attorney and his son will also go see the Marauders, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ single-A team, in Bradenton.
Finding time to do the P90X training has been difficult during the campaign.
In the courtroom, Brodsky has litigated 120 cases, from minor misdemeanors to major felonies.
He drinks his share of coffee, and his workday doesn’t end at 5 p.m.
“He is not a 9-to-5 individual,” said Sgt. Mick McHale, president of the Southwest Florida Police Benevolent Association, a group that has endorsed Brodsky. “He makes himself available 24 hours a day.”
“Whether it is search warrants in the middle of the night, or if we need an opinion of a prosecutor at 2 or 3 in the morning,” Brodsky has been available, McHale said.
One of the most complex cases Brodsky prosecuted involved the death of a 9-year-old boy, Stacy Williams, who was shot and killed during a feud between two rival gangs.
To prosecute, Brodsky had to interview members of both gangs.
“This was one of the few trials where we had law-enforcement snipers on the courthouse to prevent any gang retribution,” Brodsky said.
Sheriff’s deputies would escort Brodsky from the courthouse because he was the lead prosecutor.
“I was always determined I was on the right side and doing the right thing,” Brodsky said. “I certainly paid attention to my surroundings, even when I was home.”
Sarasota County Commission Chair Christine Robinson said she remembered Brodsky as a mentor who was willing to help younger prosecutors. From 2001 to 2004, Robinson worked for the state attorney’s office with Brodsky, although Brodsky was in Bradenton and Robinson was in Sarasota.
“He helped those who were rising through the ranks,” Robinson said. “He was willing to help prosecutors who were trying to figure something out — whether it was how to present it or interpretation of the law — even though it wasn’t his case.”
Many prosecutors will follow a career path in which they spend a few years in the state attorney’s office before moving on to practice private criminal defense. For Brodsky, that trajectory was never an option.
Prosecutors don’t make as much in financial compensation as do private-practice lawyers, but Brodsky said the personal satisfaction in his work has kept him in the state attorney’s office.
“If I have it my way, I’ll never leave the state attorney office,” Brodsky said.
ED BRODSKY, Republican
BIRTHPLACE: Toledo, Ohio
FAMILY: Wife, Kim Brodsky; Two children, Evan, 14, and Alexa, 11
EDUCATION: Associate of Arts in criminal justice, St. Petersburg Jr. College; Bachelor of Arts in criminology, University of South Florida; and a Juris Doctorate, Nova University Law School
PROFESSIONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Currently serving as the chief assistant state attorney overseeing four offices in three counties, Manatee, DeSoto and Sarasota counties. Formerly served as the chief assistant overseeing the Manatee County office and has also served as a felony division chief overseeing a felony trial division. Also has previously served as a child sex crimes/major crimes prosecutor. He is board certified by the Florida Bar in criminal trial and currently serves on the Sarasota Criminal Justice Commission.
FUN FACT: I’m a big dog-lover, and I have a Weimaraner named Mason.