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Shaw-Wilder’s nomination to federal bench celebrated

Miami Times, March 27 

Prominent South Florida attorney Detra Shaw-Wilder was nominated for a federal judgeship in Miami by President Joe Biden. Originally selected for the court by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in his role on the federal judicial nominating commission, Shaw-Wilder was previously passed over three times to fill federal judicial vacancies in South Florida by former U.S. prosecutors.

To the delight of her supporters, the president finally selected Shaw-Wilder for a fourth opening on the bench. None was more satisfied than Congressperson Frederica S. Wilson, who has been pushing for a Black woman to succeed U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke, who died in January 2023. Wilson has said it was Cooke’s dying wish that another Black woman would follow in her footsteps.

“Over two years ago, the late U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke asked me to advocate for the nomination of a Black woman to succeed her as she contemplated her legacy following a cancer diagnosis. Her passing, exactly one year later, filled her words with the weight of a final plea, a resounding call to action to embrace diversity … today, Judge Cooke’s dying wish and that of her community will be fulfilled,” said Wilson in her emotional statement.

“Detra embodies the qualities essential to judicial excellence: integrity, legal acumen, and unwavering intellectual rigor. Her nomination marks the realization of Judge Cooke’s vision and reinforces our collective commitment to diversity on the bench.” 

Wilson went on to call Shaw-Wilder’s nomination a beacon of hope for aspiring Black girls around the country and thanked attorneys H.T. Smith and Larry Handfield for their “strong and consistent advocacy” alongside her to make the moment possible. 

Shaw-Wilder is a litigation partner at the Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton law firm in Coral Gables, where she’s worked since 1994 when she began as an associate. While at the firm, she co-founded the Kozyak Minority Mentoring Foundation with partner John Kozyak to match minority law students with judges and lawyers as mentors to increase diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. 

She received her law degree from the University of Miami School of Law and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida. Just last month, the Anti-Defamation League presented Shaw-Wilder with the Jurisprudence and Community Champion Award at its first Partners Against Hate Luncheon at UM. 

Shaw-Wilder’s nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida now goes to the U.S. Senate for confirmation, where Sens. Rubio and Rick Scott are expected to champion it.