When a 7-year-old Ivonne Cuesta reached U.S. soil during the 1980 Mariel boatlift, she was handed things she had never seen before — a can of Coke and a red apple. She asked her mother what they were and was told "symbols of democracy."
The new Miami-Dade County Court judge got another Coke and apple Friday, this time in a plastic case to decorate her office.
"I don't remember if you said it was a Coke or a Diet Coke," County Court Judge Don Cohn said as he presented the gift during Cuesta's investiture ceremony.
Madeline Acosta of Acosta & Diaz in Miami Lakes said Cuesta's objectivity would make her a good judge.
"I've never seen her lose her temper. I've seen her get mad, I've seen her get upset, but I've never seen her lose her temper," Acosta said. Their friendship started when both took their first legal jobs at the public defender's office in 2001.
Cuesta, who is assigned to criminal court in the Hialeah Courthouse, recalled how the late Circuit Judge Julio Jimenez handled his courtroom.
"He let you practice your craft of lawyering, and he got out of the way. That's the kind of judge I want to be," Cuesta said.
Her 4-year-old daughter led the assembled judges, family and friends in the pledge of allegiance. Coral Gables attorney John Kozyak of Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, who spoke at the ceremony, said he tried to ease Acosta's concerns about being in the spotlight.
"I told her all they're going to remember is Emma doing the pledge," Kozyak said.