The Honorable Bertila Soto, Chief Judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, received the Dade County Bar Association's Johnnie M. Ridgely President's Award during the organization's 102nd Installation Gala, held on June 23, 2018 at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in downtown Miami.
Chief Judge Soto is the first female and first Hispanic Chief Judge in the history of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. She has been re-elected without opposition and is currently serving in her third term as Chief Judge.
Chief Judge Soto has been a judge in Miami-Dade County since 1997. During her time as Administrative Judge of the Circuit Criminal Division, she established CourtCare in Criminal Court – a child care program for those who need to come to court but don’t have child care available for their children. As Chief Judge, she established the Eleventh Circuit's International Commercial Arbitration Court – the second in the nation.
Outside of her duties on the Eleventh Circuit bench, Chief Judge Soto teaches litigation skills at the University of Miami School of Law and is a former mock trial skills coach for Our Lady of Lourdes Academy. She is a moot court coach for the University of Miami Hispanic National Bar Association Team.
During her time on the bench, Chief Judge Soto has received numerous awards for her accomplishments. Among them: the 2010 Mario P. Goderich Legal Ethics Award from the Dade County Bar, the 2013 Justice Award from the League of Prosecutors, the 2013 Women Making History Award from the Florida Association for Women Lawyers, the 2014 Katherine Fernandez Rundle Award from the Miami-Dade League of Cities, and the 2015 In the Company of Women Award from Miami-Dade County.
The Johnnie M. Ridgely President's Award was created by the Dade County Bar Association in 2005 to honor Johnnie Ridgely's life and commitment to service during her more than 42 years as executive director of the organization.