Joe Perkins, left, and Yery Marrero, right, candidates for Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge, Group 25. Courtesy photos

The latest chapter of the Daily Business Review’s coverage of South Florida candidates in the August primary elections features a Q&A with white-collar criminal defense attorney Yery Marrero and commerical litigation attorney Joe Perkins, candidates for Miami-Dade Circuit judge, Group 25. Here’s what they had to say about what qualifies them for the bench. Responses have been edited for style and content.

Yery Marrero

Yery Marrero was born in 1961 in Bayamo, Cuba, and obtained her law degree from Loyola School of Law in New Orleans. Marrero has been practicing for 28 years in courts throughout the country, and began her career as an assistant public defender, focusing on minor offenses in county court then progressing to handling major crimes in circuit court. After almost 10 years, she opened a private practice dedicated to representing clients under investigation or charged with state and federal criminal offenses.

Marrero is also active in the legal and local communities, both as a member of professional boards and as a legal commentator on Spanish-language television. She was a gubernatorial appointee who served on the DUI Review Board for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and has served as traffic magistrate for the Miami-Dade Circuit Court. She’s served on the national board for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and on the National Leadership Council, and belongs to various bar associations, including the Cuban American Bar Association and the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Why do you want to be a circuit court judge?

Marrero: I want the opportunity to serve my community. Our citizens deserve experienced Judges that follow the law, rule with compassion and are reflective of the community before them. It would be an honor to serve.

What about your experience qualifies you for the position?

Marrero: I have been a litigator for 29 years and have tried more than 75 jury trials to verdict. I have represented individuals charged with offenses from misdemeanor crimes to first-degree murder, including capital cases. For the past 19 years, my practice has been focused on white-collar defense, representing individuals under investigation or charged with criminal offenses in both state and federal court. I have also served as a traffic court hearing officer, presiding over traffic tickets.

What’s your biggest achievement so far?

Marrero: In the law, it would be co-founding Marrero Bozorgi. When I left the Public Defender’s Office 19 years ago, there were very few women in private practice focused on criminal defense. Today, I am AV-rated preeminent, along with my law partners, and I’m active in the Women’s White Collar Defense Association. Our firm is certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise Network Council, listed in the Chambers USA directory and listed as a top firm by U.S. News and World Report in the area of white-collar criminal defense.

What would a successful term look like for you?

Marrero: Success would be to have earned the respect of lawyers, my colleagues and the individuals appearing before me from the community.

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

Marrero: The continuing population growth of Miami-Dade County and the disproportionate funding provided to the courts to manage an ever-growing caseload. The increase in cases makes fair and timely justice a challenging goal. Judges rush in making decisions, eliminating moments of reflection that would result in better justice overall.

Joe Perkins

Perkins is an honors graduate of Boston University School of Law, and a partner at Garbett, Allen & Roza in Miami. The bulk of his primarily federal practice consists of litigating complex commercial disputes involving bank fraud, such as Ponzi schemes, forgeries, altered instruments and wire fraud, and the Uniform Commercial Code, where he focuses on bank deposits and collections, funds transfers, letters of credit and secured transactions.

Perkins also specializes in contracts, real estate, receiverships and business torts. His cases generally involve seven- or eight-figure disputes and often first-impression issues. Perkins speaks Spanish as a second language and Japanese as a third language, and counts the Japanese government as one of his clients.

Why do you want to be a circuit court judge?

Perkins: I have had the good fortune of meeting with many attorneys, across practice areas, during and before my campaign. I am convinced that there is a consensus within our community regarding what we desire in our judiciary. Competence and intelligence are just the baseline. With today’s ever-increasing caseloads and ever-decreasing funding, we need more judges who will also be present, thoughtful and ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work. I desire to serve our community through our circuit court because I will bring to the bench change that we seek.

 What about your experience qualifies you for the position?

Perkins: First, the breadth of my experience will be directly applicable to the needs of the largest divisions of our circuit court. Of the 30,963 circuit civil case dispositions last year, 69 percent involved contracts and indebtedness, real property or business disputes. Of the 14,230 circuit criminal dispositions last year, the single largest category of cases involved theft, forgery, fraud or worthless checks. I have substantial legal experience involving these subject matters.

Second, I have never stopped actively practicing law, and my experience is easily verifiable. I believe that actions speak louder than words and encourage voters to review my Westlaw Litigation History Report, available at 

What’s your biggest achievement so far?

Perkins: My family. My wife Fernanda and I have been married for 15 years (and I without question married up), and we welcomed into the world our first child 10 months ago.

In practice, I am proud to have successfully represented, on a pro bono basis, a church in an impoverished community in foreclosure litigation.

What would a successful term look like for you?

Perkins: Within the first few months of my term I hope to develop the reputation of a hardworking judge who knows the law, who reads and thinks about all submitted materials, and who will not be swayed by smoke-and-mirror tactics.

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

Perkins: High judicial caseloads hinder both judicial accessibility and accuracy of rulings. No one should have to choose between scheduling a five-minute calendar hearing in a few weeks or waiting months for a 15-minute hearing. No one should have to wonder before going to a hearing whether the judge has read the materials and will be prepared to thoughtfully rule.

We need more judges who will put in the judicial labor that the job requires. In practice, I value accurate case and record citations and intellectually honest presentations of the law and facts.  I will bring these values to the bench. I will put in the judicial labor — early mornings, late nights, weekends — to read and think about all materials before the court, and to make myself accessible for hearings because that is what the job requires.

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