Sally Weintraub, a fixture in the Miami-Dade State Attorneys Office for over 35 years has passed away. She was known as hardworking, diligent, and as Abe Laeser noted on her remembrance page here, she never sought the fame of being a great lawyer. But a great lawyer she was, as noted by David Ovalle, who covered her retirement in the Miami Herald in 2014 when Ms. Weintraub was 85 years old:
Early in her storied legal career, Sally Weintraub represented three poor black students from Perrine arrested during racial unrest at their high school. The year was 1970.
A judge, then known as a justice of the peace, stood up and angrily ordered her out of his courtroom.
“It hit the national news,” Weintraub said. “I was representing blacks, and he was a good ol’ boy and you just didn’t do that.”
Unless you were Sally Weintraub. She appealed. And prevailed. More than four decades later, Weintraub would again find herself fighting for the voiceless, a murdered foster child named Rilya Wilson. The 4-year-old vanished while under state supervision, and her body has never been found.
After a grueling trial, a Miami-Dade judge last year sentenced Rilya’s Kendall caretaker, Geralyn Graham, to 55 years in prison.
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a longtime advocate for reforming the state’s child welfare system, credits Weintraub’s tenacity for closing a difficult and emotional case.
“She was determined that she was not going to leave until she found justice for Rilya,” Wilson said. “Rilya had no relatives. She was a little foster child no one cared about. But Sally cared about her.”
Those cases bookend the long and accomplished career of a prosecutor who — at age 85 — has finally decided to retire after more than five decades practicing law in Florida.
Sally Weintraub was tough. She was tenacious. She prepared meticulously and she rarely lost. She mentored generations of young lawyers who passed through the State Attorneys Office. But she was also fair- which is one of the best things we can say about a prosecutor. She cared passionately about the victims whose cases she prosecuted, and she made Miami a better place to live.
Judge Reemberto Diaz, who tried cases against her when he was a defense attorney called Ms. Weintraub "The Best of the Best" and that was the title for our blog post covering her retirement here.
A life well lived that touched many others and made the world and our community a better place. May she rest in peace.