A list of 10 finalists for South Florida federal judgeships was sent to U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio.
Florida’s Federal Judicial Nominating Commission sent the list Wednesday night after interviewing 24 applicants.
The Southern District of Florida has five judicial vacancies, all designated as “emergencies” because of the court’s heavy caseload. One seat has been open for 3.5 years after Rubio blocked the nomination of Miami attorney Mary Barzee Flores, now a congressional candidate.
Six of those interviewed for the seats are women, but only one advanced to the next step. The list includes three Cuban-Americans, one Indian-American and one black nominee. President Donald Trump has nominated white men for three of every four federal judgeships, according to an Associated Press analysis.
The nominees are:
- Roy Altman, Podhurst Orseck, Miami: Previously considered a frontrunner for U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Florida, Altman has made a name for himself as a hard-hitting plaintiffs attorney. He won a Federal Prosecutor of the Year award in 2012 — before he turned 30 — and now works on tobacco, auto and aviation litigation.
- Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Antonio Arzola: The 12-year state court judge was once nominated for a seat on the Third District Court of Appeal. A son of Cuban immigrants, Arzola has worked in the civil and criminal divisions, and once clerked for U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno.
- Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg: The Southern District of Florida’s top prosecutor since March, Greenberg has worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office since 2000. He led the office’s special prosecutions and narcotics divisions and became first assistant U.S. attorney in 2010.
- Broward Circuit Judge David Haimes: The two-time federal clerk worked nearly 15 years as a state and federal prosecutor before he was named to the bench in 2009. He was a finalist for a spot on the Fourth District Court of Appeal last year.
- Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Peter Lopez: After two decades on the state court bench, the Cuban-born Lopez has a mix of criminal and civil experience. He worked as a solo practitioner handling a hodgepodge of cases, including immigration, bankruptcy, real estate and civil litigation before he became a judge.
- Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rodolfo Ruiz: Also a former Moreno clerk, Ruiz has been a judge for five years. Before that, the Cuban-American was an assistant county attorney and worked in private practice at White & Case.
- Broward Circuit Judge Raag Singhal: The first Asian-American judge in Broward County and the third in the state, Singhal was nominated last year for a Fourth District Court of Appeal judgeship. Singhal, an Indian-American, joined the bench in 2012 after decades as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney.
- Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rodney Smith: A former state prosecutor, Smith became a judge in 2008 at age 33. He hails from Miami’s historically black Liberty City neighborhood and is the first in his family to graduate high school.
- Miami-Dade Circuit Judge John Thornton: The leader of Miami-Dade’s complex business litigation division just marked his 10th year on the bench. Thornton founded his own firm in 1980 after three years as a state prosecutor.
- Melissa Visconti, Damian & Valori, Miami: During her 11 years as a federal prosecutor who also won appeals, Visconti received an Attorney General’s Award for national security matters. Her high-profile civil work includes representing Ariel Quiros in the Jay Peak investor fraud litigation.