The seventh and eighth grade students of St. Theresa Catholic School were honored to have Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul G. Cantero, III speak to them last week as a function of their social studies curriculum focused on the federal and state judicial system.
All 191 students gathered in Comber Hall in anticipation of hearing from this 1974 Alumnus of St. Theresa Catholic School. He was invited, and introduced by Mr. Daniel Serrano, seventh and eighth grade social studies teacher, and the brother-in-law of Cantero.
“I met Mr. Cantero in August, 2003 when I was coaching basketball at the only Catholic High School in Tallahassee, and we became fast friends,” said Serrano. “I met his sister, Anuka, and not too many years later, we started dating, and then married in 2011. Now, our son Daniel attends pre-k 3 at St. Theresa School.”
“I came to St. Theresa Catholic School when I was seven years old, in the second grade,” explains Cantero. “I graduated in 1974, and went on to Christopher Columbus High School. I then received my bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, and my law degree from Harvard Law School. I learned the value of self-discipline and studying from my training at St. Theresa Catholic School.”
“I met my wife, Ana Maria Perdomo, at St. Theresa. She is also an alumnus, graduating in 1975,” shared Cantero. “We got married at Church of the Little Flower in 1983.”
Cantero has had a very successful law career. “I worked for fourteen years at a law firm in Miami, specializing in appellate law. When a case in heard in a lower court, and they don’t agree with the decision, they can go to a higher court and appeal. A panel of three judges decides what will happen in the appellate court,” Cantero explained to the students. He handled more than 250 appeals and 100 oral arguments.
In 2002, there was an opening on the Florida Supreme Court. “People started telling me that I should apply, and I thought I would consider it if it were God’s will,” said Cantero. “I needed a strong message from God, and it just so happened I was going on an Emmaus Retreat that weekend. I thought if a particular friend of mine called me and told me I should apply, I would strongly consider it. I spent a lot of time praying in the chapel.”
The Monday morning, after the retreat, Cantero received a voice mail from that friend suggesting he apply for the opening. “I called my wife to tell her, and she told me that she was unpacking a box, and there was an article about the Florida Supreme Court sitting in the box,” shared Cantero. “We felt God was telling us something so we went to the Blessed Sacrament and prayed.”
Prayers led the Cantero's to apply for the Supreme Court position. The nine-member commission selected Cantero as one of the finalists to be interviewed by Governor Jeb Bush. Mr. Cantero was selected, and on July 10, 2002, he became Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero. The family moved to Tallahassee, away from family and friends in Miami.
“After six years of service, we made the decision to return to Miami, as my kids missed their family in Miami,” said Cantero. “It was the right decision for my family.”
Currently, former Supreme Court Justice Cantero is the a partner in the international law firm of White & Case, and heads the Miami Appellate Practice Group.
Mr. Cantero focused on the Florida State Court System, and how it works. He explained the differences between County Courts, Circuit Courts, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. Then the students asked questions.
“What was the hardest part of studying at Harvard?” asked one of the students. “Everyone was super smart, and came from Ivy League schools,” responded Cantero. “They strove for excellence, and I had to learn how to keep up with that.”
“Why did you choose to study law?” asked another student. “I was chosen to be the prosecutor in a mock trial when I was at Christopher Columbus High School, and I liked it,” explained Cantero. “I remember saying ‘I can do this!’”
“What would you do if you were not an attorney?” asked another student. “I would be a novelist. I love to write fiction,” answered Cantero.