Miami Law alumnus Adalberto José Jordán swore his oath as a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in a Miami courtroom packed with friends, colleagues and mentors from the local legal community.
His oath was administered by Sandra Day O'Connor, the retired Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, for whom Judge Jordán clerked early in his career.
"I don't know that I've done anything in my life all that wonderful, except I do know how to pick good law clerks," Justice O'Connor said. "I was delighted when he applied to clerk at the Supreme Court and I was even more delighted when he accepted the position and clerked for me and did a great job. We've stayed in touch in the intervening years. It's been such a pleasure to watch him receive recognition and respect in his chosen state in Florida."
Justice O'Connor was just one in a parade of dignitaries, but the only one to receive a kiss from Judge Jordán during the ceremony at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. U.S. Courthouse. He is the first Cuban-born person to sit on the appeals bench.
"Judge Jordán himself would be the first to recognize that his success is a reflection of the generosity of this great nation in welcoming hundreds of thousands of Cuban refugees throughout the last fifty years to this land of unbridled opportunity for all people," said Federico A. Moreno, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
"Judge Jordán has never confused his career with his life," Judge Moreno went on. "He knows that success is realizing what is important: to be a great son, a great husband, father, brother, loyal friend and a devout man of faith. Judge Adalberto José Jordán is all of those."
Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, shared stories of Judge Jordán from his days at the University of Miami School of Law, from which he graduated summa cum laude in 1987. "Bert had already studied con law before he got there. He really loved the intricacies of the Constitution – he was a man ahead of his times," Ferrer said. "When you talk to his law school classmates, what is the one thing everyone wanted? His outline, his notes. 'If I get Bert Jordan's notes I'm going to have the answer to all my questions; I'm going to have the bible of UM Law.' And Bert is, of course, a very giving man and he would have no problem sharing them."
Ferrer said Judge Jordán "treats everybody with dignity."
"Judges are the faces of our system," Ferrer concluded. "Those are the ones who exemplify who the stewards of justice are and the rule of law. The Eleventh Circuit is very lucky to have an ambassador like Judge Jordán be the face of the court."