Oppenheim Law

Roy Oppenheim on passing of Judge Maxine Lando

News   •   Mar 01, 2012 11:16 EST

Judge Maxine Cohen Lando dies

Gregg Fields

Daily Business Review

March 1, 2012

Maxine Cohen Lando

Maxine Cohen Lando

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maxine Cohen Lando, who served more than 20 years as a jurist in the county and circuit courts, died Wednesday after a long bout with cancer. She was 61 years old.

Lando spent virtually her entire life in Miami-Dade County, with the exception of her undergraduate years at the University of Michigan, which she attended after graduating from Coral Gables High School. She earned her law degree from the University of Miami.

From 1974-1985 she was an assistant public defender, then worked in private practice before taking the oath as a county court judge in 1991. She held that position for four years before becoming a circuit judge in 1995. She served in the civil, family and criminal divisions, and despite her illness, had formed a committee to run for re-election in August.

"She was very hard-working, very conscientious," said Michael Chavies, who was an assistant public defender with Lando, and later a fellow circuit judge. He now heads litigation at Akerman Senterfitt.

"Everybody who worked with her will say she cared about this community — all of it," he said. "From Opa-locka to Miami Beach to Little Havana."

Serving the community as a judge was nearly a lifelong passion.

"I've wanted to be a judge for a very long time," Lando told the Miami Herald after her election to the county court in late 1990. "I have one girlfriend who said I started talking about it when I was 6."

As one example of her community involvement, it was during her stint in the family division of circuit court that she was tapped to develop the domestic violence court, an innovation that was copied around the country. "This court became a model for courts around the nation," the Cuban American Bar Association noted in announcing her death.

In recent years, Lando also won plaudits from foreclosure defense activists for her sharp criticism of "foreclosure mill" practices in cases that made their way into her courtroom. She once issued an arrest order for a developer who skipped a deposition in a foreclosure case she was handling.

"She was someone who stood up for right and was ahead of her time in identifying the true culprits in the foreclosure crisis," said Roy Oppenheim, a Broward foreclosure defense lawyer. "Other judges should try to emulate her."

It had been reported last year that Lando received treatment at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. However, she had continued working until recently, presiding over an October hearing attended by, among others, foreclosure kingpin David Stern.

Lando is survived by two daughters, Rachel and Sari. According to news reports, her husband, Michael Raymond Gill, died in 2010.

Services for Lando will be conducted Friday at 11 a.m. at Congregation Bet Shira, 7500 SW 120th St., Pinecrest.