Betty Capote Knew All Along The Bench Was For Her

, Daily Business Review

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Judge Betty Capote
Judge Betty Capote

Miami-Dade County Court Judge Betty Capote knew she wanted to be on the bench before she finished first grade. She would run through her house banging a wooden mallet, pretending she'd overruled objections.

"I knew I was going to be here one day," she said. "I just wasn't sure when."

She even said so during her interview with Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle for her first job after law school, which turned out to be her only job before her robing.

"I told her," Capote said, "I am making you a promise right now that I am not leaving the state attorney's office until I become a judge. And you can have my word on that."

Born in Miami, Capote credits much of her determination to the inspiration of her family. Her father was one of the Operation Pedro Pan kids, sent out of Cuba to an unknown future to escape Fidel Castro's communist regime.

"I can't even imagine now, being older, having to make the decision of sending your child to another country not knowing what's going to happen to them. There was no communication," she said. "What a brave man my grandfather was."

Grit may run in the family. Both her mother and her sister are now attorneys, and Capote remembers being an elementary school student and watching her mother working full-time and going to law school at night. But all that came after Capote had made up her mind about her own career.

"That was definitely an inspiration to me," she said, "but I already had the idea of being a judge in my head before that."

Capote remained unwavering, and dedicated to making her dream come true.

In high school, she became president of the speech and debate team, and was nominated for a Silver Knight Award. She attended Florida International University with a focus on business, in preparation for the possibility she might some day run her own firm. And, even though she didn't know what kind of law she would go into as she worked her way through University of Miami law school, she knew what kinds she wouldn't.

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