Third DCA Judge Barbara Lagoa, the first Hispanic woman to be appointed to the Florida Supreme Court. Photo: Raychel Lean/ALM.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, left, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, second from left, and first lady Casey DeSantis, right, listen to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as he announces three new Florida Supreme Court picks at the Freedom Tower in Miami, on Wednesday, January 9, 2019. Photo: Raychel Lean/ALM.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, left, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, second from left, and first lady Casey DeSantis, right, listen to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as he announces three new Florida Supreme Court picks at the Freedom Tower in Miami, on Wednesday, January 9, 2019. Photo: Raychel Lean/ALM.

On his second day in office, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Third District Court of Appeal Judge Barbara Lagoa to the high court bench.

DeSantis, alongside Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, held a press conference Wednesday morning at Miami Dade College’s Freedom Tower — a building of sentimental value for many Cuban-Americans, including Lagoa and Nunez, as it was once used as a processing center for refugees fleeing Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s regime.

Following the announcement, Lagoa called the Freedom Tower “a beacon of hope” for her parents and many others who fled. Both Lagoa and Santis addressed the crowd in English and Spanish.

DeSantis said Lagoa, a 52-year-old Miami native, will be the first Hispanic woman to fill the post — one of three vacancies left by retired Justices Barbara Pariente, Peggy Quince and R. Fred Lewis on Tuesday.

DeSantis — a 40-year-old former Republican congressman and Harvard Law graduate from Ponte Vedra Beach — took the baton from outgoing Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday.


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DeSantis’ speech echoed that of his inaugural address, in which he vowed to end “judicial activism” and planned to retract some of predecessor Rick Scott’s “lame duck appointments,” according to a Tampa Bay Times report.

Lagoa shared the same sentiment, commenting that “it is for the legislature and not the court” to make law.

Lagoa had the most judicial experience of 11 nominees, according to DeSantis, who labeled her “the essence of what a judge should be.”

Former Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Lagoa to the Third DCA in 2006. Before then, she served as a federal prosecutor and commercial litigator. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University and a law degree from Columbia University.

“I shall be back,” said DeSantis, who will appoint two more justices in the coming days.

 

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