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Ja-born judge lands another big US promotion ... Credits upbringing for success

Published:Tuesday | June 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Jamaican judge Renatha Francis (right) with her husband, Phillip Fender, and her mother Hyacinth Francis, while her son, Joshua sleeps in her husband's arms.

United States judge, Renatha Francis, who was born and raised in Jamaica, has been named to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade, emerging above five other persons who were considered for the position.

The St Hugh's High School alumnus, is only the second black woman to be appointed to the circuit court bench in that county. The first black woman was appointed more than 25 years ago.

Florida Governor, Rick Scott, announced her promotion recently.

The Jamaican-born, Francis, replaces Miami-Dade Circuit Judge, Sarah Zabel.

Speaking with The Gleaner yesterday, Francis who is from Portmore, St Catherine, explained that when the opportunity came her way, she applied with a strong determination to face the challenges.

"I decided to be bold and go for it. I've never been one to listen to naysayers. Plus, I've had plenty of support along the way from very talented lawyers who saw something in me that they were willing to invest in."




The Miami-Dade area is tough, but Francis said that her upbringing in Jamaica made her no stranger to hard work.

"I was at UWI while I was running two businesses. And I was managing all that while taking care of a younger sibling, while my mom was in the USA. So I'm used to hard work - without excuses or complaint - and this mindset has really helped propel me forward, and ensured success in whatever undertaking I've embarked on," she said.

In Jamaica, she ran a bar and a trucking company, and from that experience, she told The Gleaner, she came to appreciate the need to treat people fairly.

"I had the opportunity to deal with all sorts of people - from 'office types' to the 'man in the streets'. This job, in addition to applying the law as written - what we call 'textualism' - is all about people; interacting with them, and making decisions that have a profound impact on their lives," she said.

"And so when I'm making rulings/judgments, I'm mindful of treating everyone the same - with the same human dignity, respect, and fairness across the board that, simply by virtue of being a person, they all deserve. That's very important to me, and is part of my judicial philosophy," Francis, a devout Christian, continued.

The United States website reported that four other county court judges and an assistant federal public defender were also vying for the post awarded to Francis.

She was appointed to the to the Miami-Dade County Court, Florida last year.

Francis, 40, received her undergraduate degree from The University of the West Indies, Mona, and her US law degree from Florida Coastal Law School. She is also a past student of the Bridgeport Primary School.