The Honorable Margarita Esquiroz, the first female Cuban judge in Florida, died Tuesday morning after a long bout with cancer. She was 67.
Esquiroz received her groundbreaking appointment in Aug. 26 1979, which the city of Miami proclaimed as “Margarita Esquiroz Day.”
She was elected to serve as a circuit judge in Dade County in 1984. She had a 31-year career on the bench in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court before she retired in 2010 because of her illness.
Vivian de las Cuevas-Diaz, the president of the Cuban American Bar Association, announced the news about the passing of Esquiroz, who was a longtime CABA member, in a message to the group Tuesday afternoon.
“She was a great mentor and friend to all of us and she will be missed immensely,” de las Cuevas-Diaz wrote.
Esquiroz graduated with honors from the University of Miami School of Law, and shortly afterward became assistant attorney general for the state of Florida.
Esquiroz received many honors during her career, including the Cuban Women’s Club’s Floridian Award in 1982. The Miami Ballet Society named her the Outstanding Woman of 1984, and in 1991 she was named a Hispanic Heritage Awards honoree for leadership. She was featured in the 1995 book “Famous People of Hispanic Heritage” along with César Chávez and others.
Esquiroz was a member of the CABA Board of Directors for several years, and in 2008 the organization named a scholarship in her honor. The Judge Margarita Esquiroz Scholarship is awarded each year to a Cuban-American law student who has distinguished himself or herself academically and/or in service activities, or to any law student who has achieved distinction “in research, writing, community services, and/or other activities of importance to the Cuban-American community.”
A visitation for Esquiroz will be held Thursday at 4 p.m. at St. Brendan Catholic Church, at 8725 SW 32nd St. A Mass will follow at 5 p.m., presided over by the Rev. Fernando Hería.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the “CABA Judge Margarita Esquiroz Scholarship Fund.” Checks should be sent to “CABA Judge Margarita Esquiroz Scholarship Fund” c/o Vivian de la Cuevas-Diaz, 2 South Biscayne Blvd., Suite 2100, Miami, Fl. 33131.