Marco Rubio committee offers President Joe Biden little choice on South Florida judicial picks
Image via Reuters.

The billionaire uncle of one nominee has been a top backer of Rubio's political career.

A group appointed by Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has offered President Joe Biden little wiggle room in choosing from its nominations for two U.S. judicial vacancies, recommending just two of eight candidates for the open positions.

Lawyer Detra Shaw-Wilder and former federal prosecutor David Leibowitz, who serves as general counsel for his uncle Norman Braman’s massive auto business, made the group’s shortlist for openings on the federal bench in Florida’s Southern District, the Miami Herald reported Friday.

Shaw-Wilder is a litigation partner and the immediate past managing partner at Miami law firm Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton. She chairs the Business Litigation Committee of the Florida Bar Business Law Section, according to her firm bio, and is a member of the Federal Grievance Committee for the Southern District.

Leibowitz, whose billionaire uncle has spent millions on Rubio’s political career, was reported to have been in the running for the federal bench in Miami last year. His appointment by former President Donald Trump never materialized.

Braman was a major backer of Rubio’s 2016 presidential run. That same year, he gave generously to then-Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera’s campaign for Rubio’s Senate seat.

Shaw-Wilder is also among six candidates for two openings, nominated by a competing committee featuring Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other Democratic South Florida Congress members.

Other nominees from that group include Palm Beach Circuit Judge Samantha Feuer, federal public defender Michael Caruso, Miami-Dade Judge Ayana Harris, U.S. Magistrate Judge Shaniek Maynard and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Miguel de la O.

Rubio’s committee also recommended formal federal prosecutors Jacqueline Arango, Markenzy Lapointe and Andrew Rivero for an open U.S. Attorney’s Office job.

Wasserman Schultz’s group also suggested Arango and Lapointe for the position and added Holland & Knight partner Michael Hantman to its list of recommendations.

Of two competitors vying for a U.S. Marshal position in Florida, Gadyaces Serralta and Amos Rojas — who both have served in the role — Rubio’s group nominated just Serralta, a Trump appointee, while Wasserman Schultz’s group gave a thumbs up to both.

Because the U.S. Senate holds the power to confirm presidential nominations, Florida’s two U.S. senators have historically held the responsibility of making judicial appointments.

As such, longtime Herald reporter Jay Weaver wrote, the move by Florida Democrats in the U.S. House to form its own nominating commission is “unprecedented.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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