By Karina Valdes
Palm Beach Circuit Judge Cymonie Rowe, B.S.C. ’94, was recognized with the “2018 Florida Bar Judge of the Year” award at the 2018 Florida Bar Annual Convention. The award was presented on June 14 during the Florida Bar Judicial Luncheon by Michael Higer, Florida Bar president. The convention was held June 13-15 in Orlando, FL and is an annual event hosted by the Florida Bar for Bar members and their families.
Rowe graduated from the University in Miami in 1994 with a B.S.C., double majoring in broadcast journalism and psychology.
“My degree assisted my success in so many ways. Professionally, it especially assisted with understanding motivations, knowing when and how say things, and when not to. It also assisted me with succinct and clear writing,” said Rowe.
Rowe received the award for her substantial contributions to educating the public on the judicial branch, including her work with students from Carver Middle School in Delray Beach, FL, and adults during Law Week and Constitution Day at Florida Atlantic University in Jupiter, FL and Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, FL. She was also recognized for her work on the Informed Voters, Fair Judges project. The project was developed to educate voters on the judicial system and to ensure they have the necessary tools to appoint and elect ethical judges.
Dr. Paul Driscoll, vice-dean for academic affairs, taught Rowe during her time at UM. He encouraged her to explore and apply to law school.
“[Rowe] was an absolutely delightful young woman with an incredible passion for the law. I followed her career and was thrilled when she graduated law school and began her practice. It was no surprise when a number of years later she told me she had been nominated for a judgeship,” said Driscoll.
Driscoll was Rowe’s adviser while she attended UM, calling him a “treasured mentor, friend, and part of my family.”
In 1997, she graduated from Nova Southeastern School of Law with her Juris Doctorate. After graduating, she worked in various insurance defense law firms throughout Palm Beach County.
In 2016, Rowe, along with 11 others, interviewed for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Judge position. Appointed by Florida Governor Rick Scott, on August 11, 2016, she began her career as a judge in the 15th Judicial Circuit.
Dr. Driscoll attended her investiture and spoke during her induction ceremony at the courthouse in West Palm Beach.
“I brought a “Get Out of Jail Free” card from the Monopoly game and asked her to sign it. She did, and returned it with a great picture of herself wearing judicial robes. It’s one of my greatest treasures,” said Driscoll.
Rowe’s education and career have taken unexpected turns and she encourages students to ‘be open to new experiences.”
“When I started at the U, I never envisioned that I’d be a lawyer, much less a judge. Explore what you love doing because if you pick a career for the wrong reasons, you may resent it,” said Rowe.