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History Making Former Miami-Dade Chief Judge Bertila Soto Is Making Hispanics Proud

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - All month long we have been highlighting Hispanics who have made an impact in our community.

Now as we approach the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, we are shining the spotlight on Judge Bertila Soto who proudly became the first Hispanic to serve as Chief Judge in Miami-Dade County.

"I love being a judge, I would not want to do anything else. I don't ever want to leave my job and I am honored to be a judge," she said.

For the past 24 years, Judge Soto has been sitting on the bench serving the people of Miami-Dade.

"I hope when people leave my courtroom and think I've been fair, patient, and that's one of my downfalls. I'm not a very patient person but I want to make sure that I listen to everyone," said Judge Soto.

When Judge Soto speaks, everyone listens. In 2013, Judge Soto made history. Not only did she become the first Hispanic Chief Judge in the county, but she was also the first female and the first Cuban American Chief Judge on the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade.

"Being the first Cuban American Chief Judge and the first female was overwhelming. It was making my family proud, it was making my people proud and I never really think of being a role model, a mentor, or an example, but many young lawyers, so many women, so many Hispanic children when I go to schools or go out, always tell me how much it gives them hope they can go somewhere," said Judge Soto.

Never letting go of her roots and remembering where she came from, Judge Soto is grateful to be living the American dream.

"I've never been to Cuba and I don't know how to explain it, but I am Cuban but I am also American. I'm blessed that this country allowed my family and my culture and my people to come to this country and live here, to leave a terrible regime of communism, so being a Cuban American is my life," she said.

A family that has made a huge impact in the Hispanic community.  Her father is the late Osvaldo Soto, a legal pioneer who successfully fought for the repeal of an English-only law in Miami-Dade County.

"He worked tirelessly for Hispanics and minorities in Miami-Dade. He wanted to make sure we were all treated equally, that we could read government paper, we had positions of power and opportunities in government, as well as commercial endeavors" said Judge Soto.

She continues to build on his legacy.

"Being a judge and knowing that he wanted more Cubans and more Hispanics, more women, to be represented in different roles of government. Being a judge then Chief Judge, I know it was really his dream and my dream together and because of him I got to have that dream and he got to see it," said Judge Soto.

Judge Soto is a proud graduate of Florida International University and The University of Miami. She served as Chief Judge from 2013 to 2020 and is now serving in the probate division.

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