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9288: First Haitian-American judge in Miami-Dade (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

First Haitian-American judge in Miami-Dade draws praise
By Madeline Baró Diaz
Miami Bureau

October 18, 2001

Assistant Public Defender Fred Seraphin, appointed this week as Miami-Dade's 
first Haitian-American county judge, is hoping to make the Haitian community 

"I am just thankful and appreciative of the governor choosing me," Seraphin 
said. "I am so honored to share this with my community."

Seraphin had made three previous unsuccessful bids for the bench. He will 
serve until 2004, completing the term of Judge Kevin M. Emas, who was 
elevated to circuit court.

Gov. Jeb Bush made the announcement Tuesday. Seraphin, 43, described the 
honor as "awesome" and said he has been overwhelmed by calls from friends 
and well wishers.

Seraphin is the latest Haitian-American to make a political breakthrough in 
South Florida, which in the past year has seen the election of the state's 
first Haitian-American legislator and the first Haitian-American majority on 
the North Miami City Council.

"We see it as an important step for the state to acknowledge the presence of 
Haitians in South Florida," said Jean-Robert Lafortune, head of the 
Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition. "We are also hopeful that other 
government institutions can give similar opportunities to 

Seraphin's father, Franck, a political opponent of Francois "Papa Doc" 
Duvalier, was murdered when Fred Seraphin, the youngest of seven children, 
was a year old. During the 1970s, his oldest brother, Andre, was imprisoned 
for almost six years in Haiti.

Seraphin's family eventually fled to the United States. Seraphin was raised 
in New York from the time he was 11 years old. He says his mother, Madeline, 
who died in 1998, kept the family together.

"She gets credit for my faith in believing that good things do happen to 
good people," he said.

Seraphin, a graduate of Hofstra University School of Law, was with the 
public defender's office from 1986 to 1991. He went into private practice 
from 1991 to 1995 and returned to the public defender's office in 1999.

Seraphin and his wife, Barbara, have been married for 18 years. They have 
two children, Tatiana, 17, and Andrew, 12.

Madeline Baró Diaz can be reached at mbaro@sun-sentinel.com or 305-810-5007.
Copyright © 2001, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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