NEWS ARTICLE

Profile: Judge Mañalich

The life story of Collier County Judge Ramiro Mañalich is that of an immigrant family living the American Dream. Ramiro's parents, Ramiro Senior and Mercedes Mañalich, fled Cuba and the communist regime of Fidel Castro for Miami in 1960 with their 1 and 1/2-year-old son and the clothes on their backs. Like so many who fled Cuba in the early 1960's, Ramiro Senior was a professional, a lawyer who practiced at a Havana law firm that represented many U.S. businesses. The family was prohibited by the Castro regime from bringing any assets to the United States. Lacking resources, Ramiro's father was not able to return to school and study law in the US.

For the next five years the family remained in Miami, living three blocks from the Orange Bowl. Ramiro's dad was the only member of the family who spoke English and during that time took any job he could find to support the family. Finally, he was able to obtain a job teaching Spanish at Concordia College in Moorehead, Minnesota. The family arranged to live across the Red River in Fargo, North Dakota. Traveling in a Volkswagen Bug, they arrived in Fargo on Labor Day in 1965. They were well received by the community and given assistance by the Lutheran Church. When Ramiro began kindergarten he spoke no English. Ramiro's father taught Spanish at Concordia College and later became a Spanish instructor at North Dakota State University in Fargo. He spent summers teaching at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. In 1968, Ramiro's dad moved the family to LaCrosse, Wisconsin where he taught at the State University. Ramiro Senior retired as Professor Emeritus of Spanish. He published a textbook on Hispanic Civilization and Culture used in five countries and he traveled throughout the Midwest speaking against the Castro government in Cuba.

Ramiro's parents were very supportive of his education as well as his interest in sports. Throughout his high school and college years his parents traveled with him to tennis tournaments. Ramiro was the number 1 player on both his high school and college tennis teams. He was ranked number 8 in men's singles tennis in Wisconsin and number 5 in men's doubles in the late 1970's.

Ramiro earned his Bachelor of Arts with highest honors in May 1980 from UW-LaCrosse. He studied law at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee earning his Juris Doctor in May 1984.

"The life story of Collier County Judge Ramiro Mañalich is that of an immigrant family living the American Dream."

While attending college and law school, Ramiro served as a law clerk in the firm of Bosshard and Associates in LaCrosse from January 1979 through August 1979 and at the firm of Robert Silverstein and Associates in Milwaukee from May 1982 through August 1982.

In June 1984, Ramiro took a position as a staff attorney with the Wisconsin Public Defender's Office in Janesville, Wisconsin where he served until November 1987. During that time he gained valuable experience handling misdemeanor, juvenile, felony, mental commitment and paternity cases.

In January 1988, Ramiro moved to Hollywood, Florida where he joined the law firm of Conroy, Simberg and Lewis, P.A. as an associate attorney representing insurance carriers in worker's compensation cases.

In July 1989, Ramiro returned to the public sector joining the Collier County Attorney's Office as an Assistant County Attorney. In October 1995, he became Chief Assistant County Attorney, where he remained until his appointment to the Collier County Bench by Governor Jeb Bush in September 2003.

Judge Mañalich's professional credentials are outstanding. He has been admitted to practice in Florida, Colorado and Wisconsin and before the US District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin, Middle District of Florida and the 11th Circuit Court US Court of Appeals. He is a member of the American Bar Association and the Wisconsin and Florida Bars. Judge Mañalich served on the Florida Bar Corrections Committee in 1988 and is a current member of the Florida Bar Local Government Law Section. He is Board Certified in City, County and Local Government Law. As a member of the Collier County Bar, he served on the Board of Directors from 1993 -1997 and later was selected to be Secretary, Treasurer, President-elect and President (2000-01). In 2002, Judge Mañalich received the Collier County Bar Association Distinguished Service Award. He served on the 20th Judicial Circuit Local Steering Committee on Professionalism. He has also served on the Judicial Independence Committee, Legal Aid Society Committee, Pro Bono Committee and Public Guardianship Committee. In 2003 he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Trial Lawyers Section of the Collier County Bar and is a member of the Inns of Court, Collier County Chapter.

Judge Mañalich is active in community affairs. The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Collier County named Ramiro Hispanic Citizen of the Year for 2004. He currently serves on both the Board of Directors and the United Way of Collier County. He is a member of the National Alumni Board of Directors for Marquette University Law School and previously was an instructor for Ethics Law training for Collier County Division Administrators, Department Directors and employees. He served as a presiding judge at the Collier County Teen Court and as a presiding judge and scoring judge for the annual Collier County High School Mock Trial Competition.

In his personal life, Judge Mañalich is an avid sports fan (especially Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers football) and participates in distance running, swimming and other outdoor recreation. He enjoys music, literature and most importantly, time with his family (wife Jane, their two children Raquel and Gabriella, his mother Mercedes and their adopted Greyhound, appropriately named "Freedom"). Judge Mañalich also appreciates time spent with friends and colleagues from the legal profession.

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