South Florida

Former prosecutor, two Miami judges to be nominated to South Florida federal bench

The Trump administration appears to have settled on three federal judge nominees for open positions in South Florida. From left, Roy Altman, Rodolfo Ruiz and Rodney Smith.
The Trump administration appears to have settled on three federal judge nominees for open positions in South Florida. From left, Roy Altman, Rodolfo Ruiz and Rodney Smith.

President Donald Trump plans to nominate former federal prosecutor Roy Altman and Miami-Dade Circuit Judges Rodolfo Ruiz and Rodney Smith to three openings on the federal bench in South Florida, according to sources familiar with the selections.

There are still seven other finalists competing for two other vacant federal judgeships in the region, but those have yet to be decided by Trump.

Those nominated by the president must still face U.S. Senate confirmation hearings and votes.

The original 10 South Florida finalists for the five openings are: Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg and former federal prosecutors Altman and Melissa Visconti; Miami-Dade circuit judges Ruiz, Smith, Antonio Arzola, Peter Lopez and John Thornton; and Broward circuit judges David Haimes and Raag Singhal.

Those finalists were pared down from 45 initial applicants by the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission in South Florida. The powerful panel is picked by Florida’s two U.S. senators, Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Bill Nelson, who interviewed the 10 candidates before their names were recommended to the Justice Department and White House.

The bench vacancies in the Southern District of Florida, which extends from Key West to Fort Pierce, were caused by five current federal judges who decided to assume senior status, taking on lighter case loads before full retirement.

Altogether, there are 13 U.S. district court judges and 10 senior judges in South Florida.

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