Judge Margarita Esquiroz, who graduated with cum laude honors from Miami Law in 1974 and became Miami-Dade's first female Cuban-American judge, died on Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. She was 67.
During her time at Miami Law, she was a finalist in the freshman Moot Court competition and won first place in the freshman writing competition for the University of Miami Law Review. After graduating, she became Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida.
Judge Esquiroz served in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court's General Jurisdiction Division from 1979 until 2010, when she retired because of her illness. She received many honors and awards during her 26 years on the bench, including a Hispanic Heritage Award for Leadership, the Cuban Women's Club's Floridian Award, and an Outstanding Woman Award by the Miami Ballet Society.
Before her appointment to the bench, Judge Esquiroz served on the Cuban American Bar Association's Board of Directors for several years. In 2008, CABA named a scholarship in her honor.
Judge's Esquiroz's obituary in The Miami Herald says she was born on Feb. 7, 1945, in Havana, and that she studied classical ballet as a child. When the Castro regime took over, her private Catholic school was closed and her family fled to Florida, according to the obituary. When she arrived in Miami as a teenager in 1962, she had no high school degree and her only practical training was a brief course in typing and shorthand.
By the time she retired, the newspaper says, Judge Esquiroz "had blazed a pioneering path."
A viewing will be held on Thursday at 4 p.m., followed by a mass at 5 p.m., at St. Brendan Catholic Church, 8723 SW 32nd Street, Miami.
To read The Miami Herald's obituary, please click here.