Judge David C. Miller and Elisabeth Espinosa are running for the Group 8 judicial seat in the August primary election. Courtesy photos

This installment of the Daily Business Review’s coverage of the August primary election features Q&As with Cole, Scott & Kissane Miami partner Elisabeth Espinosa and incumbent Miami-Dade Circuit Judge David C. Miller. The two are running for the Group 8 seat. Responses have been edited for style and content.

Elisabeth Espinosa

Espinosa has tried 73 jury trials and 67 bench trials during her time as a state prosecutor and civil trial attorney. As a prosecutor, she was lead trial attorney in her assigned felony division, where she handled various cases, including violent crimes, theft and drug offenses. In private practice, she has argued for the rights of property owners and small business owners faced with lawsuits.

Espinosa descends from Cuban exiles who fled Fidel Castro’s regime, and says her desire to return to public service stems from her family’s wish that she thrive in a country with a fair and functioning justice system. Espinosa obtained her law degree from Stetson University College of Law and graduated cum laude from the University of Florida, where she earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and Spanish literature.

Why do you want to be a circuit court judge?

Espinosa: Public service is my vocation, and I am proud to have the awesome responsibility of serving our Miami-Dade community with integrity, fairness, and a dedicated work ethic. I am looking forward to having a positive impact on our community, both on and off the bench.

What about your experience qualifies you for the position?

Espinosa: I began my career in public service as a criminal prosecutor and have also practiced as a civil litigator. Because I learned both areas of the law as a practicing attorney, I uniquely understand the issues that attorneys, victims and litigants encounter when they walk into a courtroom, as I have the perspective only gained from walking in the shoes of those I seek to serve. I have practiced in circuit court my entire career, including juvenile court, felony court and circuit court civil litigation matters, with the exception of the first five months of my career.

What’s your biggest achievement so far?

Espinosa: I am proud of my service as a prosecutor, and also proud of the courage I demonstrated when I challenged myself to change practice areas and learn civil litigation as a seventh-year attorney. My biggest achievement is the respect I have earned from my colleagues, including opposing counsels, which is a testament to my professionalism, and the respect I have for my colleagues and their clients.

What would a successful term look like for you?

Espinosa: Keeping the caseload in my assigned courtroom running efficiently, and contributing my time off the bench to community events and organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life of our residents.

What is the most important issue facing the Miami-Dade circuit at the moment?

Espinosa: Division and bias of every type. Real justice is blind, and that is what I’ll strive to implement, simply by treating everyone who walks into my courtoom with equal respect.

 

David C. Miller

Miller was elected as Miami-Dade circuit judge in 2000 after 22 years of trial work in state and federal courts in Miami-Dade. Over the past 18 years, he’s served in the civil, criminal and family divisions. The most notable cases Miller has ruled on include Miami killer Marshall Lee Gore’s post-death penalty case, and an $800 million tobacco trust fund settlement in which he decided how class action members would receive compensation.

Miller graduated from the University of Florida in 1975 and from Nova University Center for Law in 1978. Miller was born and raised in Miami, where he married “high-school sweetheart” Marilyn Shoultes 44 years ago. He has two sons and five grandchildren.

Why do you want to be a circuit court judge?

Miller: I hope to continue serving all of Miami-Dade County’s residents with my proven integrity, experience and dedication because I know I can provide timely and thoughtful access to the fairness and justice the litigants desire and deserve.

What about your experience qualifies you for the position?

Miller: I have 40 years of exceptional, and successful, trial experience in the state and federal courts. I have utilized that experience while serving the last 18 years as a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge — eight years in the civil division, seven years in the criminal division, and three years in the family division. My appellate success rate has been very high, as have my bar poll ratings.

What’s your biggest achievement so far?

Miller: I have made myself available on request, without delaying hearings or decisions, even if that meant giving up my vacation, weekend and holiday time. I have never delayed justice and thereby prevented undue stress and injustice.

What would a successful term look like for you?

Miller: Continuing to make myself available at all times, being prepared to handle the Miami-Dade issues that are assigned to me. I will continue to offer 7 a.m. hearings, as needed, to move cases forward to resolution and closure.

What is the most important issue facing the Miami-Dade circuit at the moment?

Miller: I will do everything in my power to move everyone’s cases forward to a just and fair conclusion as I live by the motto: “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

 

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