Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Cornell University, Law Degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law (with honors). I was a three-sport Division I athlete at Cornell and a member of the law journal at Loyola. After law school, I worked for a federal trial judge in Orlando. I am the only one of the 65 judges in this circuit to have started their career in this manner. I spent nearly 10 years before my judicial appointment at GrayRobinson, where I started as a junior associate and left as an equity partner.
Circuit Court Judge
Before my appointment to the judiciary, I was heavily involved in two charities. The first is called Dorothy’s Family, which I founded along with my brother in honor of our mother, whom we lost to cancer. Dorothy’s Family donates toys and games to children going through cancer treatment. The second is called Track Shack Youth Foundation, which has provided over $2 million in grants to Central Florida schools, programs, clubs and charities with a focus on youth health and fitness. I was the president of this organization for over four years.
I am a member of several bar organizations, including but not limited to the Orange County Bar Association, the Central Florida Association for Women Lawyers, and the Hispanic Bar Association.
Describe your philosophy of the judicial role, the qualities that are most important for the role, and the greatest challenges to the role.
A trial court judge is in the one of the loftiest customer service positions to which someone can aspire. We must never forget that we are public servants. Accordingly, punctuality, preparedness and professional courtesy are simple, yet critical skills that every jurist should display at all times. The greatest challenge of the role is that every circuit court judge is asked to learn and master new areas of law in short periods of time. After a career spent as a civil trial attorney, I was assigned to our family/domestic violence division, where many of my litigants could not afford lawyers, and where I have addressed myriad issues involving children’s, housing, mental health and substance abuse issues. I am proud that the lawyers who appear before me have overwhelmingly supported my continued service.
Briefly describe a case or a legal issue on which you worked of which you are particularly proud, or is reflective of your legal ability and work. (limit 150 words)
While I tried cases in three different states as a trial attorney and won two verdicts in excess of $1 million for my clients, I am proudest of the work I have done in my last two years as a judge. In particular, I have taken great interest in how perpetrators of domestic violence are held accountable for their actions through assignment to batterer’s intervention programs. These programs are designed to make abusers identify and change their behaviors so that domestic violence is less likely to reoccur. Due to my passion for this issue, the Chief Judge has appointed me to sit on a multi-disciplinary committee that certifies these programs and ensures that their services are provided in a proper and effective manner.
What, in your opinion, is the most important U. S. Supreme Court decision? Why? (limit 150 words)
Marbury v. Madison (1803) is the cornerstone of the judiciary’s status as an equal branch of government. This has served as a vital check and balance to protect and maintain the rights of private citizens.
What do you perceive as the greatest obstacles to justice, if any? Why? (limit 150 words)
Like many professions, we have been continually asked to do more with less resources. This creates, and will continue to create, access to justice issues. Despite our state and region’s population growth, our number of judges has been stagnant, and the judiciary’s budget has been cut on repeated occasions. While my colleagues and I work very hard and care very deeply, sheer volume has created longer waiting times and less hearing time per case. Many people cannot afford attorneys, and while a judge must be able to handle these types of hearings with patience, skill and dignity, they often do not occur as quickly or last as long as people would like. Resulting dissatisfaction can cause a loss of faith in the system, which I strive on a daily basis to uphold.