Saying farewell to the 'Cantero ethic'
The Florida Supreme Court this afternoon honored retiring Justice Raoul G. Cantero III with a tearful, appreciative sendoff, remembering him as a man of supreme ethics and as a pioneer for Hispanics.
"Justice Cantero is the essence of what we mean by judicial independence," Justice Barbara Pariente said before a standing-room-only crowd. "What you see from the outside is what there is inside. ... Although I am very, very sad, Raoul, you have left your mark on the court and in history." She then pulled off her black robe to reveal a guayabera, sending a wave of laughter through the venerable courtroom.
Michael Josephs, chairman of the Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, praised Cantero for an unwavering pursuit of high standards against public cynicism toward lawyers.
To honor that, he called on lawyers to dedicate themselves to a "proliferation of the Cantero ethic."
Cantero's daughter, Elisa Marie, provided a tearful, humorous account of his decision to leave Miami six years ago. "I may be 13," she said, crying, "but I know what my dad gave up for me and my brothers."
Switching to laughter, she said that whenever her father stopped at the gas station for his favorite candy, peanut M&Ms, he always gave her a few.
Cantero, 47, was appointed to the court on July 10, 2002, by Gov. Jeb Bush, becoming the first Hispanic to sit on the court. He announced his retirement this year, citing a desire to return to Miami.
After paying tribute to Hispanic jurists before him, Cantero said: "The only legacy I care about, the only one I ask for, is that one day people will say that I made the lives of those I came in contact with a little better. That's enough for me."