Robin Rosenbaum
Robin Rosenbaum (J. Albert Diaz)

Seven years ago, Robin Rosenbaum was a federal prosecutor handling high-profile crimes in Fort Lauderdale.

She was confirmed Monday to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta. The 91-0 vote capped a stellar rise through the ranks of the judicial system from federal magistrate to district judge to the appellate bench.

She replaces Rosemary Barkett, who retired from the court to take a post with the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal at The Hague.

Rosenbaum is the second judge from the Southern District of Florida to be elevated to the appellate level in little more than two years. Judge Adalberto Jordan was confirmed in February 2012.

Florida’s senators threw their support behind Rosenbaum on the floor. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said he and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio supported Rosenbaum and are concerned about the “alarming vacancy rate” on the three-state circuit.

“Judge Rosenbaum is clearly not controversial,” Nelson said. “She’s going to make a fine addition to the Eleventh Circuit.”

Chief U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno in Miami noted that the choice by President Barack Obama of a judge recently approved by the Senate for the district bench made Rosenbaum’s nomination nearly bulletproof.

“The president knew she could never be challenged,” Moreno said.

The court insists her presence is badly needed. In December, Chief Circuit Judge Ed Carnes declared a judicial emergency with four vacancies on the 12-judge court. The emergency opened the door for cases to be decided by a panel with just one circuit judge and two visiting judges.

For Moreno, Rosenbaum’s confirmation was somewhat bittersweet since the district is again losing a judge who quickly gained a reputation for scholarly rulings and a sunny disposition.

It was Moreno and fellow district judges who choose Rosenbaum in 2007 to become a magistrate in Fort Lauderdale.

“We did a great job, didn’t we? No good deed goes unpunished,” Moreno quipped. “She is the type of person everybody on both sides respect. She has that calm demeanor. She is a hard worker. Maybe that comes from her being a working mother.”

Criminal defense attorney David Markus, a partner at Markus & Markus in Miami, said Rosenbaum represents a centrist position.

“Judge Rosenbaum is smart, pragmatic and thorough—exactly what you want from an appellate judge,” he said. “President Obama is demonstrating that he likes moderate, down-the-middle judges with no agenda for the Eleventh Circuit. Judge Rosenbaum will certainly make the district proud.”

From Clerk to Judge

Rosenbaum is married to attorney Philip Rothschild, a commercial litigator at Holland & Knight in Fort Lauderdale. They have two daughters and are active in youth sports.

Besides the life experience of juggling a professional career and motherhood, Rosenbaum’s legal command runs deep, Moreno said.

She graduated from the University of Miami School of Law in 1991 and took her first job at the Justice Department defending the constitutionality of federal statutes and agency programs. She then joined the independent counsel office’s investigation of former Commerce Secretary Ronald Brown.

Rosenbaum spent two years as an associate with Holland & Knight focusing on federal employment law before accepting a position in 1998 as a law clerk for Eleventh Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus. She now becomes Marcus’ colleague reviewing appeals from Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

After her clerkship, Rosenbaum became an assistant U.S. attorney in Fort Lauderdale, specializing in securities fraud, bank fraud, identity theft, tax fraud, telemarketing fraud, health care fraud, Internet fraud and computer crimes. In 2002, she became chief of the economic crimes section in Fort Lauderdale.

Botox case

One of her most high-profile cases was the prosecution of those responsible for distributing and administering bogus Botox.

Dr. Bach McComb, who poisoned himself, his girlfriend and a Palm Beach Gardens couple, was sentenced to three years in prison.

She also prosecuted a Tucson couple who was sold the unapproved Botox substitute.

Coral Gables attorney Stuart Z. Grossman, a partner at Grossman Roth who represented the Palm Beach Gardens couple, said Rosenbaum was always cordial but clearly knew she had to keep an arm’s length away from civil litigation swirling around the case.

“I was impressed by that. She was professional and no-nonsense,” Grossman said. “McComb got a stiff and a justified sentenced because of her stellar work.”

While on the district bench, Rosenbaum ordered the National Security Agency to turn over cellphone records to Terrance Brown, who wanted to use the dragnet surveillance records to prove his innocence in an armored car robbery case. Brown was found guilty last month.

She also oversaw the prosecution of Kim Rothstein, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for selling jewelry purchased with money made from her husband Scott Rothstein’s $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.