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Cecilia Maria Altonaga
Judge on United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
Assumed office
May 7, 2003
Nominated by George W. Bush
Preceded by Shelby Highsmith
Personal details
Born (1962-12-26) December 26, 1962 (age 51)
Baltimore, Maryland
Alma mater Florida International University

Cecilia Maria Altonaga (born December 26, 1962) is a Florida United States district court judge. She is the first Cuban-American woman to be appointed as a federal judge in the United States.


Altonaga was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and is an alumnus of Florida International University, where she received her B.A. in 1983. She graduated from the Yale Law School in 1986. She worked as an attorney in the Miami Dade County Attorney's Office from 1986–1987, and then served as a law clerk to Edward B. Davis of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida from 1987-88 before returning to the County Attorney's Office until 1996. In 1996, Governor Lawton Chiles appointed her as a County Court Judge on Florida's Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court. In 1999, she was elevated to Circuit Court Judge in that district by Governor Jeb Bush.

She was nominated for a seat on U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida by George W. Bush on January 15, 2003, to a seat vacated by Shelby Highsmith. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 6, 2003, and received her commission the following day. During her time on the federal bench, Altonaga has been noted for her strong support of the recently created Florida International University College of Law, having served as the keynote speaker in the 2004 Convocation, judged several moot court competitions, and employed FIU law students as summer interns.

Supreme Court speculation[edit]

In July 2005, following the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Judge Altonaga's name was raised as a potential George W. Bush Supreme Court candidate, a position for which she was promoted by Florida's Hispanic community. However, it would be a very rare occurrence for a sitting District Court judge to be appointed to the Supreme Court. At 43, Altonaga was younger than most other Hispanics or women who were being mentioned as possible nominees, which might have made her a more attractive choice to the President. However, President Bush went through several other nominees, and nominated Judge Samuel Alito for the position.

Notable Rulings[edit]

On June 14, 2007, Altonaga ruled that US Sugar Corporation's practice of pumping untreated wastewater into Lake Okeechobee was in violation of the Clean Water Act. Largely as a result of this decision, on June 25, 2008 the state of Florida announced plans to purchase 300 square miles (780 km2) of land controlled by US Sugar, which will be used to restore vital water flow between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades National Park, helping to ensure its survival in the face of competition for water from surrounding development.[1]

She also presided over the trial of Charles McArthur Emmanuel, son of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, for torture.[2]

In September 2006, Sheikh Mohammed was accused of encouraging the abduction and enslavement of thousands of boys for use as jockeys in camel races. A class-action suit was filed in the state of Florida in the United States.[3][4][5][6] In July 2007, Judge Altonaga granted a motion to dismiss the suit because none of the involved parties resided in the United States.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schor, Elana (2008-06-24). "Florida to buy 187,000 farmland acres to preserve Everglades". Guardian. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  2. ^ Anderson, Curt (2009-01-09). "Taylor's son gets 97 years in prison for torture". Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-01-09. [dead link]
  3. ^ Gumbel, Andrew (2006-09-15). "Dubai princes accused of masterminding trade in jockey slaves". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  4. ^ "Dubai's ruler accused of slavery". BBC News. 2006-09-14. Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  5. ^ A Dubai Leader Faces Charges of Enslavement - September 14, 2007 - The New York Sun
  6. ^ Cover Bio from Current Biography Monthly Magazine - April 2008


External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Shelby Highsmith
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecilia_Altonaga — Please support Wikipedia.
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22 news items

Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:30:00 -0700

... could not comment on the case. Reyes appeared Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Patrick White and pleaded not guilty. The trial has been tentatively scheduled to begin during the first two weeks in November before U.S. District Judge Cecilia ...
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 09:40:33 -0700

U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga has agreed to a new delay in the Miami federal court trial against a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent accused of extortion. Altonaga's order delaying the trial until November was issued Thursday ...
Law360 (subscription)
Thu, 11 Sep 2014 13:54:04 -0700

Law360, Los Angeles (September 11, 2014, 4:41 PM ET) -- The Eleventh Circuit on Thursday agreed to let Procter & Gamble Manufacturing Co. out of a lawsuit in multidistrict litigation over Fixodent glue, finding the lower court was correct to exclude ...
Fri, 05 Sep 2014 13:30:03 -0700

The murder-related charges carry life imprisonment. The weapons offenses have five- to 10-year maximum sentences. Campo's sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 13 before U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga. Campo showed no emotion as the judge read all ...

Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 22:08:42 -0700

His attorney David Rowe made the outlandish claims about the Australian, New Zealand and US woman the 37-year-old Baston turned into high-end prostitutes in a bid to sway Judge Cecilia Altonaga, who is preparing to sentence Baston in the Miami District ...

El Nuevo Herald

El Nuevo Herald
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 06:29:36 -0700

La jueza federal Cecilia Altonaga ha aprobado un nuevo retraso al juicio en el tribunal federal de Miami contra un agente de la Policía de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE) acusado de extorsión. Altonaga emitió la orden demorando el juicio hasta noviembre el ...

El Nuevo Herald

El Nuevo Herald
Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:06:07 -0700

Durante una audiencia de poco más de media hora en la corte federal de Miami, la magistrada Cecilia Altonaga impuso además tres meses de arresto domiciliario a Sternad. “Estoy muy alegre por la decisión que hoy se ha tomado”, dijo Sternad, de 37 años, ...

El Nuevo Herald

El Nuevo Herald
Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:27:29 -0700

... permite discutir casos con la prensa. El miércoles último, Reyes compareció ante el magistrado Patrick White y se declaró inocente. El juicio se ha fijado para comenzar durante las primeras dos semanas de noviembre ante la juez federal Cecilia ...

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