United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
- 1 Vacancy warning level
- 2 Active judges
- 3 Jurisdiction
- 4 Caseloads
- 5 Notable cases
- 6 History
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 References
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida is one of 94 United States district courts. The district operates our of courthouses in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Fort Pierce, Fla. Appeals from the court are directed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
Vacancy warning level
|Mary Barzee Flores||University of Miami School of Music, 1985||University of Miami School of Law, 1988|
Article III judges
|Chief judge Federico Moreno||1952||Caracas, Venezuela||H.W. Bush||7/16/1990 - Present||2007 - Present||Alcee Hastings||University of Notre Dame, B.A., 1974||University of Miami Law School, J.D., 1978|
|Judge Jose Martinez||1941||Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic||W. Bush||9/17/2002 - Present||Edward Davis||University of Miami, B.A., 1962||University of Miami, J.D., 1965|
|Judge Marcia Cooke||1954||Sumter, SC||W. Bush||5/18/2004 - Present||Wilkie Ferguson||Georgetown U., B.A., 1975||Wayne State U., J.D., 1977|
|Judge Cecilia Altonaga||1962||Baltimore, MD||W. Bush||5/7/2003 - Present||Shelby Highsmith||Florida International U., B.A., 1983||Yale Law, 1986|
|Judge Ursula Ungaro||1951||Miami Beach, FL||H.W. Bush||10/9/1992 - Present||New Seat|104 Stat. 5089||University of Miami-Florida, B.A., 1973||University of Florida Law, J.D., 1975|
|Judge Kevin M. Moore||1951||Coral Gables, FL||H.W. Bush||2/10/1992 - Present||Eugene Spellman||Florida State U., B.A., 1972||Fordham U. Law, J.D., 1976|
|Judge William Zloch||1944||Fort Lauderdale, FL||Reagan||11/4/1985 - Present||2000 - 2007||New Seat|98 Stat. 333||University of Notre Dame, B.A., 1966||University of Notre Dame Law, J.D., 1974|
|Judge Joan Lenard||1952||Amityville, NY||Clinton||12/26/1995 - Present||James King||Roger Williams University, B.A., 1973||Antioch Law (U. of the District of Columbia), J.D., 1976|
|Judge Donald Middlebrooks||1946||Orlando, FL||Clinton||5/27/1997 - Present||James Kehoe||University of Florida, B.A., 1968||University of Florida Law, J.D., 1972|
|Judge William Dimitrouleas||1951||Lynn, MA||Clinton||5/22/1998 - Present||Norman Roettger||Furman University, B.A., 1973||University of Florida College of Law, J.D., 1975|
|Judge Kenneth Marra||1951||Queens, NY||W. Bush||09/13/2002 - Present||New Seat|114 Stat. 2762||Stonybrook SUNY, 1973||Stetson U. Law, 1977|
|Judge James Cohn||1948||Montgomery, AL||W. Bush||8/1/2003 - Present||New Seat|116 Stat. 1758||University of Alabama, B.A., 1971||Samford U. Law, 1974|
|Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr.||Obama||10/19/2011 - Present||Paul Huck||Brown U., B.A., 1977||Boston College Law, J.D., 1980|
|Judge Robin L. Rosenberg||1962||West Palm Beach, Florida||Obama||7/22/2014-Present||Adalberto Jordan||Princeton University, 1983||Duke University School of Law, 1989|
|Judge Beth Bloom||June 24, 1962||Bronx, NY||Obama||6/24/2014-Present||University of Florida, 1984||University of Miami School of Law, 1988|
|Judge Darrin P. Gayles||1966||Peoria, Illinois||Obama||6/17/2014-Present||Patricia Seitz||Howard University, 1990||George Washington University Law School, 1993|
|Judge Kathleen M. Williams||1956||Derby, CT||Obama||8/2/2011 - Present||Daniel Hurley||Duke U., B.A., 1978||U. of Miami Law, J.D., 1982|
Active Article III judges by appointing political party
This graph displays the percent of active judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.
|Senior Judge James L. King||Nixon||10/19/1970 - 12/20/1992||1984 - 1991||12/20/1992 - Present||University of Florida, B.A., 1949||University of Florida Law, J.D., 1953|
|Senior Judge William Hoeveler||Carter||4/26/1977 - 1/31/1991||1/31/1991 - Present||Bucknell University, B.A., 1947||Harvard Law School, J.D., 1950|
|Senior Judge Jose Gonzalez (Florida)||Carter||7/28/1978 - 11/30/1996||11/30/1996 - Present||University of Florida, B.A., 1952||University of Florida, J.D., 1957|
|Senior Judge Kenneth Ryskamp||Reagan||4/24/1986 - 1/1/2000||1/1/2000- Present||Calvin College, B.A., 1955||University of Miami School of Law, J.D., 1956|
|Senior Judge Shelby Highsmith||H.W. Bush||9/16/1991 - 3/15/2002||3/15/2002 - Present||University of Kansas, LL.B., 1958|
|Senior Judge Donald Graham||H.W. Bush||9/16/1991-12/15/2013||12/15/2013-Present||West Virginia State College, 1971||Ohio State U. Law, 1974|
|Senior Judge Daniel Hurley||Clinton||3/11/1994 - 2/24/2009||2/24/2009 - Present||St. Anselm`s College, B.A., 1964||George Washington University Law School, J.D., 1968|
|Senior Judge Paul Huck||Clinton||7/11/2000 - 8/31/2010||8/31/2010 - Present||University of Florida, B.A., 1962||University of Florida School of Law, J.D., 1965|
|Senior Judge Patricia Seitz||Clinton||10/1/1998-11/16/2012||11/16/2012-Present||Kansas State U., 1968||Georgetown U. Law, 1973|
Senior judges by appointing political party
This graph displays the percent of senior judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.
|Chief Magistrate Judge Barry Seltzer|
|Magistrate Judge Frank Lynch, Jr.|
|Magistrate Judge Andrea Simonton||04/01/1999 - Present||Florida International U., B.S.W., 1973||University of Miami Law, J.D., 1978|
|Magistrate Judge John O'Sullivan (Florida)||04/01/1999 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge Patrick White (Florida)||2002 - Present||Colgate U.||Howard U. Law, J.D.|
|Magistrate Judge James Hopkins||10/15/2003 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres||06/2003 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge Chris McAliley||03/25/2004 - Present||Tufts U., B.A., 1979||New York U. Law, J.D., 1983|
|Magistrate Judge Peter Palermo||1971 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge Barry Garber||10/30/2009 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge William C. Turnoff||1986 - Present||Franklin and Marshall College, A.B., 1970||Cornell Law, J.D., 1973|
|Magistrate Judge Lurana S. Snow||03/10/1986 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge Dave Lee Brannon||02/24/2012 - Present||U.S. Coast Guard Academy||University of Miami School of Law|
|Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman||07/23/2010 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge Alicia Otazo-Reyes||04/12/2012 - Present||University of Miami, B.A.||University of Miami Law, J.D.|
|Magistrate Judge William Matthewman||07/02/2012 - Present||Florida International University||University of Florida|
|Magistrate Judge Alicia O. Valle||2013-Present||Rutgers University||Harvard Law School|
|Magistrate Judge Patrick M. Hunt||1/28/2013-Present|
The Southern District of Florida has original jurisdiction over cases filed within its jurisdiction. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.
The district includes the South Florida metropolitan area of Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce, Miami and West Palm Beach. It comprises 15,197 square miles and approximately 6.3 million people. Court offices are in Miami, Florida.
The following counties are in the Southern District of Florida:
|Federal Court Caseload Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases:||Median time(Criminal)**:||Median time(Civil)**:||3 Year Civil cases#:||Vacant posts:##||Trials/Post|
|*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website and reflect the calendar year through September. **Time in months from filing to completion.|
#This statistic includes cases which have been appealed in higher courts. ##This is the total number of months that any judicial posts had spent vacant that year.
Famous cases that have been heard in the district include Bush v. Gore, United States v. Noriega (the prosecution of Manuel Noriega), González v. Reno (the Elián González case) and United States v. José Padilla (the prosecution of José Padilla).
|• Doctor involved in criminal "pill mill" sentenced to 6+ months in jail (2014)||Click for summary→|
|In April 2014, Judge Kenneth Marra sentenced Dr. Cynthia Cadet to 78 months in prison for her role in a money-laundering scheme related to the writing of opioid painkiller prescriptions for drug addicts and drug dealers. Judge Marra also ordered Cadet to pay $10,000 in fines. In the underlying case, Cadet was acquitted in a July 2013 jury trial of charges having to do with the deaths of nine of her patients. The jury chose to convict her on money laundering charges which stemmed from the criminal "pill mill" with which she had become involved.
| • Drug testing for state employees unconstitutional (2012)|
Judge(s):Ursula Ungaro (AFSCME v. Rick Scott, 11-21976)
|Click for summary→|
|In April 2012, Judge Ursula Ungaro found that Governor Rick Scott's random drug testing of state employees was unconstitutional. The judge ruled that the policy violated constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure. In addition, Judge Ungaro found that the testing was unnecessary, since there was not a widespread problem amongst the 80,000 state employees randomly subjected to tests.|
| • Bradley Birkenfeld case (2010)|
Judge(s):William Zloch (United States v. Bradley Birkenfeld, 08-CR-60099-ZLOCH)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge William Zloch was the presiding judge in the case of former UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld, who was considered to be a key person in a wide-ranging income tax evasion case. On December 31, 2009, Birkenfeld's legal team asked the judge to delay the start of his three-year prison sentence on grounds he should be re-sentenced for cooperating with authorities. This came after federal prosecutors asked the judge to be lenient on sentencing the former banker. On January 4, 2010, the judge refused a request from Birkenfeld's legal team to give their client a reduced prison sentence for cooperating with authorities. Prosecutors, in turn, asked the judge to be lenient on the defendant. With the judge's decision, Birkenfeld was scheduled to begin a three-year prison sentence on January 8, 2010.|
| • BankUnited Case (2010)|
|Click for summary→|
|Judge Marcia Cooke was the presiding judge in a shareholder lawsuit against BankUnited. Shareholders of the Florida-based bank sued its management over being misled about the company's financial condition. The judge stated in her ruling that there was not enough evidence to find BankUnited's management had deliberately misled investors, and the suit was dismissed.|
| • Sears Tower attack (2009)|
Judge(s):Joan Lenard (USA v. Batiste, et al, 06-20373-CR-Lenard)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge Joan Lenard was the presiding judge in the case of six Miami-area men who were accused of trying to destroy the Sears (now Willis) Tower in Chicago. On November 20, 2009, Judge Lenard sentenced the ringleader of the terror plot, Narseal Batiste, to 13½ years in federal prison. Batiste's co-conspirators received sentences between five and eight years.|
| • Legal fees case (2009)|
Judge(s):Marcia Cooke (USA v. Kuehne, 1:05-cr-20770-MGC)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge Marcia Cooke was the presiding judge in a case about attorney Ben Kuehne, who accepted $5 million dollars in tainted legal fees from a cocaine baron. Judge Cooke ruled that a law in Congress allowed attorneys to accept legal fees no matter if the money was tainted or good. Kuehne, the former counsel to Vice President Al Gore, had his trial in front of Judge Cooke put on hold while the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments regarding the legality of accepting legal fees from disreputable sources.|
The District of Florida was established by Congress on March 3, 1845, with one post to cover the entire state. On February 23, 1847, Congress divided the district into the Northern District of Florida and the Southern District of Florida with one judicial post for each district. Over time, 17 additional judicial posts were added for a total of 18 posts.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Southern District of Florida:
|March 3, 1845||5 Stat. 788||1|
|February 23, 1847||9 Stat. 131||1|
|September 14, 1922||42 Stat. 837||2(Temporary)|
|January 17, 1929||45 Stat. 1081||3|
|1930||Temporary Post Expired||2|
|June 27, 1930||46 Stat. 820||3|
|May 24, 1940||54 Stat. 219||4(Temporary)|
|1947||Temporary Post Expired||3|
|August 3, 1949||63 Stat. 493||4|
|February 10, 1954||68 Stat. 8||5|
|May 19, 1961||75 Stat. 80||7|
|July 30, 1962||76 Stat. 247||4|
|March 18, 1966||80 Stat. 75||5|
|June 2, 1970||84 Stat. 294||7|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||12|
|July 10, 1984||98 Stat. 333||15|
|December 1, 1990||104 Stat. 5089||16|
|December 21, 2000||114 Stat. 2762||17|
|November 2, 2002||116 Stat. 1758||18|
Former chief judges
In order to qualify for the office of chief judge in one of the federal courts, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge. A vacancy in the office of chief judge is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a chief judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.
For more information about the judges of the Southern District of Florida, see former federal judges of the Southern District of Florida.
- United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, "Official Website"
- United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, "Official Website"
- Southern District of Florida Blog, "Home Page"
- United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, "Orders & Opinions"
- United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, "Judge Information"
- Offices of the United States Attorneys, "U.S. Attorneys Listing," accessed on September 27, 2014
- United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, "Official Webite," accessed on September 23, 2014
- New York Times, "State Worker Drug Tests Struck Down in Florida," April 26, 2012
- New York Times, "U.S. Is Said to Consider Easing Informant’s Term," January 3, 2010
- New York Times, "Judge Refuses to Delay Prison for UBS Informant," January 4, 2010
- Miami Herald, "Claims against former BankUnited management dismissed," March 31, 2010 (dead link)
- Washington Post, "5 Miami Men Convicted of Attempting to bomb Sears Tower," May 12, 2009
- New York Times, "Florida: Sentencing in Tower Plot," November 20, 2009
- Associated Press, "Fla. court hears alleged tainted legal fees case," September 24, 2009 (dead link)
- Federal Judicial Center, "History of the Districts of Florida," accessed on September 27, 2014
- United States Courts, "Frequently Asked Questions"
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
Chief Judge: Federico Moreno • Jose Martinez • Marcia Cooke • Cecilia Altonaga • Ursula Ungaro • Kevin M. Moore • William Zloch • Joan Lenard • Donald Middlebrooks • William Dimitrouleas • Kenneth Marra • James Cohn • Robert N. Scola, Jr. • Robin L. Rosenberg • Beth Bloom • Darrin P. Gayles • Kathleen M. Williams
|Magistrate judges||Barry Seltzer • Frank Lynch, Jr. • Andrea Simonton • John O'Sullivan (Florida) • Patrick White (Florida) • James Hopkins • Edwin Torres • Chris McAliley • Peter Palermo • Barry Garber • William C. Turnoff • Lurana S. Snow • Dave Lee Brannon • Jonathan Goodman • Alicia Otazo-Reyes • William Matthewman • Alicia O. Valle • Patrick M. Hunt •|
|Former Article III judges||
George C. Young • Alan Gold • Adalberto Jordan • James Paine • Stanley Marcus • William Marvin • Thomas Jefferson Boynton (Florida) • Peter Fay • David Dyer • James William Locke • John McKinney (Florida) • John Moses Cheney • Rhydon Mays Call • Alexander Akerman • Lake Jones • Halsted Lockwood Ritter • Louie Willard Strum • John Warthen Holland • Joseph Lieb • William McRae • Curtis Waller • George Whitehurst • Sidney Aronovitz • Carl Atkins • Ted Cabot • Emett Choate • Edward Davis • Dozier DeVane • Joseph Eaton • Wilkie Ferguson • Charles Fulton • James Kehoe • William Mehrtens • Lenore Nesbitt • Norman Roettger • Thomas Scott • Eugene Spellman • Robin Rosenbaum • John Bryan Simpson • William Julius Barker • Alcee Hastings •
|Former Chief judges||
James L. King • William Zloch • David Dyer • Louie Willard Strum • John Warthen Holland • George Whitehurst • Carl Atkins • Edward Davis • Joseph Eaton • Charles Fulton • Norman Roettger • John Bryan Simpson • William Julius Barker •
State of Florida
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of State | Chief Financial Officer | Commissioner of Education | Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services | Commissioner of Insurance Regulation | Secretary of Environmental Protection | Director of Economic Opportunity | Chair of Public Service Commission |