Judge Barbara Lagoa, a rock-solid, rule-of-law conservative from Miami and the first Cuban-American woman to serve on the Third District Court of Appeal, is Gov. Ron DeSantis' first of three Supreme Court selections. "And so her backdrop understanding that I think has really made her appreciate the importance of the rule of law".
"One of the recommendations that Congressman Mast has provided to me was that we really need a fresh start at the South Florida Water Management District and so today I have sent correspondence to all of the board members, thanking them for their service but requesting their resignation", said Gov. DeSantis.
In 2003, Lagoa joined the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida as an assistant United States attorney, where she worked in the Civil, Major Crimes and Appellate sections.
"In the country my parents fled, the whim of a single individual could mean the difference between food or hunger, liberty or prison, life or death".
Under Florida law, the governor can suspend elected officials for criminal activity, misfeasance, incompetence or neglect of duty. "Unlike the country my parents fled, we are a nation of laws".
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 graduated from Florida International University with honors in 1989 and from Columbia University School of Law in 1992, where she served as an editor to the prestigious Columbia Law Review.
She is the first Hispanic woman in history to serve on the Florida Supreme Court. Lagoa, 51, worked at the Greenberg Traurig and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius law firms in Miami and is a former assistant USA attorney in the Southern District of Florida. She also is a former federal prosecutor in Miami. As an assistant United States attorney, she tried numerous criminal jury trials, including drug conspiracies and Hobbs Act violations.
"I share the governor's concern that in recent years the power of the judicial branch has extended beyond its limited constitutional responsibility, in many cases eroding the authority of the legislative branch", Galvano said. He promised to appoint state state Supreme Court justices in the mold of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Stemberger praised Lagoa for her membership in the Federalist Society.
Barbara Lagoa, for the past 12 years a judge on the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami, was introduced by DeSantis at an event at Miami's Freedom Tower. I believe democracy is at its best when each branch of government exercises both authority and restraint at the appropriate time.
First appointed to the Third District Court of Appeals by Governor Jeb Bush in 2006, Justice Lagoa was the first Cuban American woman to serve on the Third District Court of Appeals.
This article has been updated to reflect that Lagoa is the state's first female Cuban-American justice.