Gov. DeSantis to speak on holding 'government officials accountable'

Federico Mansilla
Enero 12, 2019

"Equality Florida is deeply disappointed to see that LGBTQ employees and contractors have been left out of the Governor's executive order", said Joe Saunders, Senior Political Director for Equality Florida.

The first Cuban American woman to serve on the Court, Judge Lagoa was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush in June, 2006 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge David Levy.

In addition to her legal bona fides, Lagoa has a "great personal history", DeSantis said, pointing to the location of Wednesday's announcement, the Freedom Tower in Miami, as symbolic of his choice. "And so her backdrop understanding that I think has really made her appreciate the importance of the rule of law". As an Assistant United States Attorney, she tried numerous criminal jury trials, including drug conspiracies and Hobbs Act violations.

"I thought it was fitting, given that her parents came to Florida as Cuban exiles", DeSantis, 40, said.

Lagoa, now a judge on the 3rd District Court of Appeals that hears cases from Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, is a Cuban-American born in Miami and raised in Hialeah. "She understands the rule of law, how important that is to a society".

"In the country, my parents fled the whim of a single individual could mean the difference between food and hunger, liberty or prison, life or death", Lagoa said.

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Under Florida law, the governor can suspend elected officials for criminal activity, misfeasance, incompetence or neglect of duty.

Lagoa, 51, grew up in Miami and attended New York's Columbia Law School, where she edited the prestigious law review.

DeSantis' replacements for the three justices who were required to retire this week - R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince - will reshape a court that for years has been a thorn in the side to the Republican-dominated Legislature and former Gov. Rick Scott. Justice Lagoa worked at numerous prominent law firms in Miami, including Greenberg Traurig and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. She was also a member of the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission.

Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said this: "I appreciated the governor's comments during his inauguration yesterday in which he stressed the proper role of the judiciary. It flows from their responsibility to protect me".

Stemberger praised Lagoa for her membership in the Federalist Society. "Gov. DeSantis on his first Supreme Court appointment". I believe democracy is at its best when each branch of government exercises both authority and restraint at the appropriate time. "In the world of judicial appointments, Barbara Lagoa is a home run".

This article has been updated to reflect that Lagoa is the state's first female Cuban-American justice. "For the past 12 years, Judge Lagoa has served our community and judiciary as the first Cuban-American woman on the Third District Court of Appeal".

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