Kevin Emas has been elected to serve as chief judge of Florida’s Third DCA. Photo: ALM/J. Albert Diaz

Judge Kevin Emas is the new chief judge of Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal.

Emas’ colleagues unanimously elected him to the position during a vote held Thursday. He will succeed outgoing Chief Judge Barbara Lagoa. Lagoa, along with Judge Robert Luck, have been appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to the Florida Supreme Court. Their departures add to the string of vacancies in Florida courts, following the resignations of Third DCA Chief Judge Leslie Rothenberg and Judge Richard Suarez.

Emas was first appointed as a judge by Gov. Lawton Chiles in 1996 to the Miami-Dade County Court. In 2001 he rose to the Miami-Dade Circuit Court after being chosen for the position by Gov. Jeb Bush. Gov. Charlie Crist then elevated him to the Third DCA.

The judge received his J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law in 1982, graduating cum laude . He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Florida and graduated with honors in 1979.

When contacted by the DBR for comment about his appointment, Emas quipped he was “in the right place at the wrong time.”

“Obviously it’s an honor to be the chief judge of the Third DCA and I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues and the entire staff of the Third,” Emas said. In light of the flurry of judicial appointments and vacancies on the Third DCA, Emas added his “first bit of business is still figuring out who’s on the court and who’s not.”

“Obviously we’ve very proud of Justice Lagoa, and now Justice Luck, to their appointments to the Florida Supreme Court,” Emas said. The Chief Judge noted DeSantis and the Judicial Nominating Committee will be moving with “all deliberate speed” to fill judicial vacancies in the Third DCA. “Obviously we’ll be managing as best we can with the folks we have here. I’ve already had [staff] come to me and say, ‘Whatever you need, we’re all in.’ So it’s all hands on deck.”

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