President Donald Trump is nominating Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Ariana Fajardo Orshan to become the first female U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Florida.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, the Cuban-American family court judge would run the Southern District of Florida’s U.S. attorney’s office, which is one of the largest and busiest in the nation.
Fajardo has served in criminal court and as administrative judge of the Unified Family Court. She was a Coral Gables attorney before Gov. Rick Scott appointed her to the bench in 2012 to replace Circuit Judge Julio Jimenez, who died that year of liver cancer. She had practiced family and matrimonial law.
Before entering private practice, Fajardo was a Miami-Dade prosecutor from 1996 to 2002, specializing in narcotics and organized crime.
A onetime colleague, Holland & Knight partner William N. Shepherd, welcomed Thursday’s news. Shepherd and Fajardo started working at the state attorney’s office on the same day in 1996.
“I’ve known her for a long time. She’s always been really passionate about the work and the cases,” said Shepherd, who’s now an executive in Holland & Knight’s West Palm Beach office and litigator in the firm’s Florida and Washington operations. “I think she’s going to be great for the job.”
Fajardo earned her undergraduate degree from Florida International University and her law degree at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center.
She is married to litigator Robert D. Orshan, founder and managing partner of Orshan, Spann & Fernandez-Mesa in Coral Gables.
Fajardo was reported to be the choice for the top prosecutor’s post last September by Politico. There was speculation her name was brought forward by former Miami U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, now Trump’s labor secretary.
Other previously reported favorites were former state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, who lost a special election for the state Senate last year, and attorneys Jon Sale and Roy Altman.
Fajardo’s longtime friend Jorge Perez, a former Miami-Dade Circuit judge now with Bryan Cave, called her “very patriotic” in an interview last year.
“She loves this country, like many of us who are Cuban-American and fled oppression. We understand that the rule of law is a fragile thing,” he said.
Perez met Fajardo when she succeeded him as president of the Miami Lawyers chapter of the Federalist Society, a conservative and libertarian group. She impressed him by drawing lots of new members and quickly mastering new skills, and she was never afraid to ask questions.
“She has the kind of personality that is very positive, outgoing, and she has a great sense of humor, doesn’t take herself too seriously—in a good sense, so that people feel very comfortable working with her,” he said. “You don’t want an arrogant U.S. attorney.”
Fajardo’s name was issued by the White House on Thursday in the president’s 14th wave of top prosecutors, judges and marshals.