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Judge Diana Vizcaino ’00 – 60th Anniversary Gala Alumni Spotlight

Many law students struggle to find a job in their field — even long after graduation.

Not Judge Diana Vizcaino.

She landed a coveted position as a prosecutor for the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office even before she graduated from St. Thomas University’s College of Law.

“That job I was able to get because of on-campus interviews with different governmental agencies and private firms — all set up by St. Thomas,” Vizcaino said. “I signed up, and it was a tremendous opportunity for the first round of interviews.”

Indeed, from 2000 to 2005, Vizcaino prosecuted hundreds of cases – from misdemeanor offenses to violent felonies.

Then, as assistant chief in the Career Criminal Unit, Vizcaino supervised more than 20 attorneys.

After that, Vizcaino joined the law firm of Boyd Mustelier Smith & Parker, where she practiced civil litigation in State and Federal Court.

Vizcaino also served as a senior trial attorney for the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. While there, she prosecuted employment-discrimination cases in the district courts of Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

She also represented the City of Miami as an assistant city attorney and division chief for the Labor and Employment Division. She served as a municipal prosecutor, she drafted legislation, and she represented City of Miami management in collective bargaining and in all aspects of labor negotiations.

Her hard work and impressive versatility paid off in March of 2015, when she was appointed as a judge in County Court.

“Becoming a judge was a dream come true for me,” Vizcaino said. “I’m humbled, honored, and blessed to be able to serve the people of Florida. To be able to give people the opportunity to be heard and to be treated with respect when they are in my courtroom is something I strive for.

“My job is to follow the law, and that’s what I do. But it’s important to me that when they leave my courtroom – whether they agree with the ruling or not – for them to feel they were treated fairly.”

After her prestigious appointment to the bench, Vizcaino served in the County Civil Division and the Domestic Violence Division.

Then, in September of 2021, Vizcaino was elevated to the Circuit Court for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida. She was assigned to the Circuit Criminal Division.

In October of 2022, Vizcaino was assigned to the Circuit Family Division.

Vizcaino has accomplished all of this because of her academic talent, her understanding of the law, and some wise choices along the way.

Born in Hialeah, FL, to Cuban parents, Vizcaino was the first person in her family to graduate college.

After graduating from Monsignor Pace High School in Miami Gardens, she went right next door to St. Thomas University for her Bachelor’s degree. St. Thomas was also her choice for law school.
“I really didn’t go very far,” Vizcaino said in her self-deprecating fashion.

And while it is true that Vizcaino did not travel far from home, she has climbed high in the legal profession, taking advantage of every opportunity that has come her way.

The first of those opportunities was a dual-enrollment program at Pace that gave her college credits at St. Thomas University.
“Those credits gave me the interest to continue at St. Thomas,” Vizcaino said. “I then viewed the campus, and there was something about the atmosphere. It felt comfortable.

“I was drawn to the small class sizes, and the better student-to-teacher ratio, and the more personal attention I would be receiving, as opposed to being in a class of more than 100 people.

“Had it not been for those dual-enrollment classes, and then the on-campus interviews, I might not be where I am today. The key is to take advantage of your opportunities.”

Since graduation, and even with her incredibly busy schedule as a judge, Vizcaino has remained connected to STU, speaking to the law students on different occasions.

She has also worked with two interns who are law students at St. Thomas.
“I’m humbled to be able to give back,” Vizcaino said. “I’m honored to do it, whether it’s as a mentor or sharing my experiences of where I’ve come from and where I am now.”

With Vizcaino, however, one mystery remains:
How she got the idea to join the legal profession.

“I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was a kid, and I’m not sure why,” said Vizcaino, who was about 12 years old when she first considered a law career. “I didn’t know any attorneys, and there were certainly no attorneys in my family.

“There was just something inside me, a desire to be an attorney. Maybe it was a calling. I believe in that, and perhaps this was mine.”

Kris Williams

Author Kris Williams

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