Prior to winning in an uncontested election in 2008, Mari practiced law for 19 years. During those 19 years of practice, Mari practiced in virtually every courthouse in Miami-Dade County. She started out her career at the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building where she practiced criminal law. In addition, she handled matters in Family and Juvenile Court. Thereafter, she was an advocate for litigants in the civil court arena representing both plaintiffs and defendants. She handled hundreds of appeals and argued cases before the Third District Court of Appeal and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. She tried civil and criminal cases in both state and federal courthouses. In short, her experience touched upon virtually every aspect of legal practice.

While sitting as a judge in the Juvenile Court Dependency Division since 2009, Mari has spearheaded many innovative projects. She serves as Associate Administrative Judge of Juvenile Court as well as chairs all Dependency Work Shop Meetings and the meetings with judges and general magistrates. In addition, she serves as co-chair for the CBC Alliance of Miami. She presides as the Unified Family Court judge in Juvenile Court which requires her to hear cases that involve dependency and delinquency and which touch upon family law matters that include dissolution and paternity suits and custody battles. She has presides over a new, innovative, and “specialized court” which handles human trafficking cases that come through the Juvenile Court system. She was named Woman of the Year for 2012-13 by the National Association of Professional Women and received the Urban Cuban American Award from the Federación de Estudiantes Cubanos at the University of Miami in 2012.

Mari remembers the importance of moving a case docket; being respectful to advocates and clients; and ensuring that the courthouse doors remain open for all individuals. Those who practice before her can agree that those are traits she still holds true and that she has the temperament and compassion which the bar reveres in a judge.

On a personal note, Mari is an incredible wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. She has been married to Jose, her husband, for 21 years and is a great example to her two children, Michael and Christopher. She recently authored a book in an effort to raise money for the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center entitled The Heroes among Us which chronicled her family’s journey when her husband was struck ill. It is our responsibility to ensure that the finest judges remain on the bench. As such, it is incredibly important for us to support individuals of great moral character and great legal intellect. These individuals must also have a sense of equity and treat those that appear before the court with respect. We look forward to your support of Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia.

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