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Miami Judge Rodolfo Ruiz II Breezes Through Senate Confirmation to Federal Bench

Rodolfo Armando Ruiz II testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing to be U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Florida, on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM.

Rodolfo Armando Ruiz II testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing to be U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Florida, on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rodolfo "Rudy" Armando Ruiz II climbed to the ranks of the federal bench Thursday, when the U.S. Senate confirmed him 90-8 for a lifelong seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Ruiz will fill a spot left by U.S. District Judge William Zloch, who reduced his caseload when he took on senior status in 2017.

President Donald Trump originally scouted Ruiz for the post in April 2018, but the nomination expired before lawmakers could vote. Trump renominated Ruiz in January.

Miami-born Ruiz, 40, began his legal career in the Southern District of Florida as a law clerk to U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno. He then spent two years practicing with White & Case's corporate Latin America transactional practice group.

Ruiz served three years as an assistant county attorney, focusing on tax and finance, torts and federal litigation divisions. He handled tax cases and defended tort claims and civil rights cases.

Ruiz was appointed county court judge in 2012 by then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott. He oversaw criminal misdemeanor and traffic cases, civil protective orders and small claims litigation. In 2015 he rose to the circuit bench, handling more than 300 major felonies and civil cases.

He holds a bachelor's degree from Duke University and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

Ruiz' popularity among senators was no shock to Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond who tracks and writes nationally about judicial nominations.

"The overwhelming confirmation vote is not a surprise, as Judge Ruiz is a well-qualified mainstream jurist, who had a smooth hearing and committee vote," Tobias said. "He fills an emergency vacancy, which should help the Southern District of Florida judges manage the heavy caseload."

 

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