Dexter Wayne Lehtinen was chosen to be the new Palmetto Bay village attorney by unanimous vote of the village council at its Mar. 3 meeting. The resolution authorized the village manager to negotiate a contract that will come back to the council for approval at the Apr. 7 meeting.
Lehtinen, 67, was selected over five other candidates for the job, including interim village attorney John R. Herin Jr. of Gray Robinson PA, who has served since the departure of long-time village attorney Eve Boutsis. Most of the other candidates had experience as city attorneys.
Lehtinen is a decorated Vietnam War veteran and a former politician, serving in the 116th District of the Florida House of Representatives. He also served as interim U.S. Attorney for South Florida and as a law professor at the University of Miami School of Law and at Florida International University. He is the husband of U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Lehtinen previously had been with Miami law firm Tew Cardenas, but he and four other lawyers left in February of this year to open their own firm, Lehtinen Schultz Riedi Catalano De la Fuente, after the death of cof o u n d e r Thomas Tew.
Graduating from the University of Miami in 1968 magna cum laude with a BA, Lehtinen then graduated with an MA from Columbia University and an MBA in 1974. In 1975, he graduated first in his class from Stanford Law School. He received the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in the Vietnam War.
While serving as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida for three and a half years, his three biggest cases were those of former Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, religious sect leader Yahweh Ben Yahweh and of Hialeah Mayor Raul L. Martinez. Lehtinen served as the general counsel for the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida Indians until May 2010.
After the vote, Lehtinen came to the podium to address the council and acknowledge the other attorneys who were under consideration.
“Thank you very much,” Lehtinen said. “I do agree that all of those firms were qualified. Certainly I wouldn’t call it simply luck or circumstance, but they could easily have been picked, so I appreciate all the effort that you folks made and I look forward to working with Palmetto Bay.”
Upon approval of his contract, Lehtinen will become the fourth lawyer to serve as village attorney, after Herin, Boutsis and Earl Gallop, the first to hold the job.