Leading the Florida Appellate Court: Alumni Serve Back-to-Back as Chief Judge of the Third District Court of Appeal

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Judge Kevin Emas and Judge Ivan Fernandez

Judges Kevin Emas, J.D. '82 & Ivan Fernandez, J.D. '92

Ivan F. Fernandez, J.D. ’92, will assume the role of chief judge at the Third District Court of Appeal on July 1, taking the mantle from another Miami Law alumnus – current Chief Judge Kevin Emas, J.D. ’82.

"Our alumni hold positions of leadership and influence as successful lawyers, federal and state judges, and entrepreneurs and work hard for the communities they serve,” said Dean Anthony Varona. “I congratulate Ivan F. Fernandez on taking the mantle as Chief Judge at the Third District Court of Appeal and salute Kevin Emas on his departure."

Both Emas and Fernandez are past Judicial Directors of the Law Alumni Association. Emas served as an adjunct faculty member at Miami Law, where he taught in the Litigation Skills Program. Emas is also a past recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award.

Judge Ivan Fernandez

Judge Fernandez was appointed to the Third District Court of Appeal in 2011 by Governor Rick Scott. He was initially elected to the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in November 2002 and took office on January 7, 2003. He served in the Dependency, Criminal, Civil, and Family Divisions of the Circuit Court.

Before taking the bench, Fernandez served as a prosecutor, as a civil trial lawyer, as a police officer, having retired from the City of Miami Police Department as a police major, and as a Military Police Investigator in the United States Army. As a prosecutor, Fernandez served in the domestic violence, juvenile, felony, and public corruption divisions. As a civil trial lawyer, he practiced family law, commercial transactions, and civil litigation. As a police officer, Fernandez worked street patrol, K-9, S.W.A.T., homicide, narcotics, and eventually took command of the South District Substation of the City of Miami Police Department.

At Miami Law he has participated in the Legal Profession Roundtable Program and the Partnership for Professionalism program.

Fernandez was born in Santa Clara, Las Villas, Cuba. He emigrated to the United States in May of 1962, at the age of 9, with his parents. Fernandez has lived in Miami, Florida most of his life and graduated from Barry University and the University of Miami School of Law.

Judge Kevin Emas

Judge Emas has the distinction of being appointed to the judiciary by three different Governors. Governor Lawton Chiles appointed him to the Miami-Dade County Court in 1996. Five years later, Governor Jeb Bush appointed Emas to the Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit, and in 2010, Governor Charlie Crist appointed Emas to the Third District Court of Appeal.

As a member of the trial court bench for 14 years, Emas served in the Domestic Violence, Criminal, Civil, and Family Divisions. Before taking the bench, Emas was an assistant public defender, an associate and partner with Fine Jacobson Schwartz Nash Block & England, and a partner with the law firm of Thornton, Rothman & Emas.

Emas has always been dedicated to legal education at all levels. Since 1998, he has been a faculty member of the Florida Judicial College, teaching newly elected and newly appointed judges prior to their taking the bench. He currently teaches at Florida International University College of Law in the Litigation Skills Program and has coached mock trial teams at Coral Reef and Killian Senior High Schools. As a mentor in the Justice Teaching program, Emas has partnered with high schools throughout Miami-Dade County to assist in mock trial programs, Teen Court, Law Week, and other law-related activities and civics education in the high schools.

During his time at Miami Law, Emas served as an editor of the University of Miami Law Review. He was a member of the Law School Honor Court and the Order of Barristers. Emas received his B.A. (with honors) from the University of Florida in 1979.

Currently, additional Miami Law alumni that serve on the 10-judge appellate bench of the Third District Court of Appeal include: Judge Norma S. Lindsey, J.D. '93; Judge Bronwyn C. Miller, J.D. '92; Judge Fleur Lobree, J.D. '92, and Judge Monica Gordo, J.D. ‘99.

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