Months after state prosecutors indicted her husband for securities fraud and theft — but chose not to charge her, despite her name appearing on related documents — Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel is stepping down from the bench.
Her resignation will take effect May 31, according to a letter she sent Gov. Rick Scott.
Four years ago, Zabel made national news when she struck down Florida’s same-sex marriage ban. But more recently, Florida’s Judicial Qualifications Commission, a state body that investigates possible misconduct by judges, has been investigating her role in a land deal that went bad, according to the Daily Business Review, which first reported her resignation.
Her husband, former North Miami Beach Mayor Myron Rosner, was arrested over that deal in October. He allegedly used much of a business partner’s $150,000 investment to pay personal bills for him and his wife. The money was meant for a development project that was never built.
Zabel’s name was all over the land deal, including on corporate paperwork, promotional materials and bank records. But prosecutors said they could not prove Zabel was aware of any criminal activity on Rosner’s part. He has pleaded not guilty.
“The state didn’t charge Judge Zabel because Judge Zabel has done absolutely nothing wrong,” her lawyer, Margot Moss, told the Miami Herald in November.
Zabel’s resignation was confirmed by the court Wednesday.
In a statement, Zabel said:
“It has been an honor for me to serve the people of Miami-Dade County these past nearly 16 years. Although I will miss seeing my colleagues and the families who come before me every day, I am looking forward to starting a new season in my legal career and I will continue to make a difference for our community. This is the right time for me.”
Zabel has been a Miami-Dade circuit judge since 2002 and oversees family court cases. In 2014, she declared Florida’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, a conclusion also reached by the U.S. Supreme Court. She later officiated the weddings of two couples who had sued to end the ban.
The Eleventh Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission is searching for Zabel’s replacement on the bench.