Tanya Brinkley, who was nominated nine times to become a judge and finally won a countywide election for an open County Court seat, took her oath Friday as only the second sitting black woman on the Miami-Dade bench.
"Today I am very, very happy to be here for something that is way overdue," said Larry Handfield, who hired Brinkley as a law clerk two decades ago at the firm that would become Brinkley & Henrys.
George Knox, a former member of the Florida Bar Foundation, said of all judicial qualities, "I was struck by her patience."
County Court Judge Teretha Thomas, a 20-year veteran, is the other black female.
Handfield, who served as Brinkley's campaign treasurer, said he would never forget the first case they tried together, which ended with the charges dropped. Brinkley immediately objected.
"How dare the judge dismiss the case when I stayed up all night?" Handfield recalled her saying.
But he said the community should be embarrassed that of 123 judges, only two are black women.
"The governor ignored her time after time," Handfield said. "Thank God the people of Miami-Dade County recognized her talent."
County Court Judge Victoria del Pino, who served with Brinkley as a traffic hearing officer from 2004 to 2006, administered the oath of office.
"I'm so glad I dragged you 18 months ago to fill out the form to become a judge because this was meant to be," del Pino said.
Brinkley, who has a Jewish mother and an African-American father, used the investiture to thank her campaign supporters as well as introduce herself to her new judicial colleagues.
"I'm overwhelmingly honored to be part of such a select group," she said.