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Front Page » Profile » District Judge Cecilia Altonaga Handles A Varied Caseload As Drug Cases No Longer Dominate Federal Dockets In Miami

District Judge Cecilia Altonaga Handles A Varied Caseload As Drug Cases No Longer Dominate Federal Dockets In Miami

Written by on February 23, 2012

As the first Cuban-American woman to serve as a federal judge, Cecilia Altonaga is breaking new ground.

"Every time I achieved what I set out to do I saw myself not only as a Cuban-American, but as a woman opening doors," she said. "It’s important for our community to see [themselves] in our judiciary. We want to have a diverse judiciary."

Ms. Altonaga was appointed to federal court by former President George W. Bush in 2003, and like all federal judges, will serve a lifetime appointment upon good behavior. She presides over both criminal and civil cases that have a basis in federal jurisdiction.

She began her law career clerking for a federal judge in Miami, where she became acquainted with judicial responsibilities.

Ms. Altonaga went on to become a practicing attorney, dealing with commercial and construction litigation. She served as an assistant county attorney for Miami-Dade County, advising the county commission and county administration.

Her first experience on a judge’s bench was as a state judge, where she served in various divisions, including the domestic violence and the criminal division.

Today, she encounters a wider variety of cases, which she says reflects Miami’s diverse community. From identity theft to Medicare and bank fraud, she now deals in complex cases.

Ms. Altonaga is involved with law-related organizations and is often a speaker. She has supported FIU’s law school and says she is proud of how much the university, which she and many of her family members attended, has grown.

Ms. Altonaga discussed her path to becoming a federal judge and her current role with Miami Today staff writer Patricia Hoyos in her downtown Miami office at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. US Courthouse.To read the entire issue of Miami Today online, subscribe to e -Miami Today, an exact digital replica of the printed edition. To read this profile article in its entirety, subscribe to e-MiamiToday. With the e-MiamiToday you will be able to read the entire contents of Miami Today online exactly as it appears in print. Or order this issue, to receive a regular printed copy of this week’s Miami Today. You may also subscribe to the printed edition of Miami Today to receive the newspaper every week by mail. If you are reading this in Miami Today’s “Online Archive” as an archived web page and would like to see the entire article that was published, call Miami Today, 305-358-2663 and ask for the Circulation Department.   Top Front Page About Miami Today Put Your Message in Miami Today Contact Miami Today © Copyright 2012 Miami Today designed and produced by Green Dot Advertising and Marketingvar gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”));var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-4990655-1″);pageTracker._initData();pageTracker._trackPageview(); var _rsCI=”us-bpaww”; var _rsCG=”0″; var _rsDN=”//”; var _rsPLfl=0; var _rsSE=1; var _rsSM=1.0; var _rsCL=1;