Bárbara Lagoa, the first Cuban-American woman to serve on the Court of Appeals for the Third District of Florida, was appointed Supreme Court judge by Governor Ron DeSantis. She is also the first Hispanic woman to serve on the Florida Supreme Court. She is replacing retired judge Fred Lewis.
In Florida, the governor fills the vacancies for judges by selecting from a list of candidates. After being appointed, the judges will face votes of merit, where the public can decide if they should remain in office. According to the regulations of the state, this occurs during the first general elections after the appointment. If they do not pass that test, the judge is replaced in the same way in which the governor originally appointed them.
Lagoa was born and raised in Miami. Graduated cum laude in 1989 from Florida International University, she specialized in English and was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. She received her Juris Doctor from Columbia University in 1992. She was an associate editor of the Columbia Law Review.
DeSantis said that judge Lagoa’s proven commitment to upholding the rule of law, an unparalleled legal career and vast experience in the appeals bench, distinguishes her among the most qualified people to serve in the highest court in the state. He added that it was a pleasure and a privilege for him to appoint Bárbara Lagoa to the Supreme Court of Florida with full confidence that she will serve the state with the greatest integrity.
She worked for three years as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida. As a practicing lawyer, she was accepted to practice by the Florida Bar Association, the United States District Courts for the Mid and South Florida Districts and the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit of the United States. She was also a member of several local, state and national professional groups.
She practiced both in the civil and criminal spheres. Her civil work focused on complex commercial litigations, especially in the areas of labor discrimination, damages to companies, securities litigations, construction litigations and insurance disputes. She worked in numerous law firms in Miami.
She formed part of a team of lawyers that in 1999 represented the U.S. family of the child Elian González
In 2003 she joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida as an assistant, where she worked in the Civil, Serious Crimes and Appeals sections.
Her civic and community activities include service on the Board of Directors of the YWCA of Greater Miami and Dade County, the Miami Film Society, Kristi House and the Association of Former Students of the FIU. She was also a member of the Federal Commission for Judicial Nominations. She is currently a member of the Eugene P. Spellman and William Hoeveler chapters of American Inns of Court, Junior League of Miami and Fairchild Tropical Gardens.
She has received numerous awards for her professional work, including the Outstanding Women of Color for her outstanding contributions as a sitting judge.