Honorable Roberto Arias retiring after serving nearly 30 years

Portrait of the Honorable Roberto Arias. (News4JAX.com)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A special retirement ceremony was held Thursday for the Honorable Roberto Arias, who is retiring after serving as a Duval County judge for nearly 30 years.

There were lots of laughs and emotional moments as his colleagues honored him during a sendoff in Courtroom 406 at the Duval County Courthouse. Dozens gathered to thank him for serving the judicial system.

″We are two refugee kids,” explained Judge Eleni Derke. “He came to this country, I did too under dire circumstances. He was 10 and I was 12. He not only survived, he thrived in this country.”

Arias, sometimes emotional, told his colleagues that he came to Jacksonville to do trial work with the public defenders officers, thinking he’d leave Jacksonville, but instead fell in love with the city.

A portrait of Arias was unveiled, followed by more heartfelt words.

“He has spent a career earning the respect of everyone who’s ever been in front of him, and he’s never betrayed us,” said James Edwards with the Fifth District Court of Appeals. “So we thank him for more than we can ask.”

Arias said he’s looking forward to the years ahead of his retirement.

“I may not have the opportunity to say ‘hi’ personally to all of you, but each one of you have a special place in my heart,” he told the gathering.

Arias’ last day on the bench will be March 1.

About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.