Born in Havana, Cuba and raised in New York and Miami, Mr. Palmer has lived in Miami, Florida for most of his life and cares a great deal about his community. Accordingly, he has been active in community organizations, bar associations, and bar committees since the outset of his career.
He first became involved in community service in 1988 when he volunteered to join a team of attorneys who were providing legal counsel to Bishop Agustin Roman in Miami. Bishop Roman was working to defuse a crisis that arose when Mariel detainees rioted in prisons in Georgia and Louisiana after learning that they may be deported to Cuba. Bishop Roman intervened and succeeded in ending the riots and then worked to protect the due process rights of these individuals in their fight to avoid deportation to Cuba. Mr. Palmer traveled to Washington, D.C. with Bishop Roman and other attorneys and, at the age of 28, testified before Congress on the matter and met with senior Department of Justice officials to negotiate resolution of the issue. He also helped form a non-profit corporation, Due Process, Inc., which advocated on behalf of these detainees. As a result of these efforts, the Department of Justice agreed to provide additional procedural safeguards related to assessing each detainee’s circumstances in their struggle against deportation to Cuba.
Florida Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Business and Contract Cases
Mr. Palmer served as a member of this committee created by the Florida Supreme Court from 2009 – 2015. The committee is comprised of distinguished jurists, law professors, and practicing commercial litigators from throughout Florida. The committee drafted Florida’s first-ever set of jury instructions for business and contract cases. These instructions enhance and refine the development of commercial law in Florida by providing concrete guidance on the elements of causes of action and defenses involved in commercial litigation. The instructions also create a uniform set of jury instructions for courts to follow in such cases.
Cuban American Bar Association (CABA)
As a Cuban American attorney, Mr. Palmer has always felt a special commitment to CABA. While a member of CABA’s board of directors early in his career, Mr. Palmer had the vision and courage to lead the controversial effort to open membership in CABA to non-Cuban attorneys in 1989. He led a group of CABA attorneys who prepared and filed CABA’s first amicus brief, which was filed with the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the Elian Gonzalez case in 2000. He was also one of the principal drafters of the Draft Transitional Law for the Republic of Cuba, which was prepared by CABA to help facilitate the eventual reestablishment of the rule of law in Cuba. In 2015, he worked with CABA to assist former Cuban political prisoners who were forced into exile in Spain and sought to immigrate to the United States. Mr. Palmer is part of a group of CABA attorneys who filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights seeking immediate relief against human rights violations committed by Cuba in connection with the arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of Cuban dissidents who participated in the peaceful July 11, 2021, protests in Cuba.
Development of International Law in Florida
One of Mr. Palmer’s greatest passions is the effort to develop the practice of international law in Florida. His dream is to help make Florida one of the world’s leading jurisdictions in the field of international law within his lifetime. In 2002, he and his Swiss colleague, Daniele Favalli, worked to convince the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) to create the ICDR’s Annual Miami International Arbitration Conference and served as co-chairs for the conference in 2002 and 2003. They then worked to persuade the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) to create and hold its annual conference on International Arbitration in Latin America in Miami starting in 2002. This conference has become the most well-attended ICC conference in the world and has played a vital role in bringing together international arbitration practitioners from throughout Latin America. Mr. Palmer also worked with other international law practitioners in Florida to enact Florida Bar Rule 1-3.11, which allows parties to select counsel of their choice to represent them in international arbitration proceedings conducted in Florida, regardless of whether said counsel is admitted in Florida. Mr. Palmer helped create the Miami International Arbitration Society (MIAS) and served on its board of directors from 2009 – 2015. In 2010, Mr. Palmer led the successful effort on behalf of the International Law Section of the Florida Bar (ILS) to enact the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration in Florida. In 2011, he drafted Miami’s winning bid to host the prestigious International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) Congress held in Miami in April of 2014. In 2013, he worked to establish the International Arbitration Subsection of the Miami-Dade Circuit Court, which oversees all court proceedings involving international arbitration matters. He also helped enact other international law legislation in Florida and served as Chair of the ILS in 2016.
Academic Involvement and Support
Mr. Palmer is a firm believer in the importance of mentoring law students and young lawyers. For over 10 years, he has provided financial support for the University of Florida College of Law’s Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Team. He has also served as an adjunct coach and travelled with the Team to Vienna, Austria for the annual competition. Mr. Palmer teaches international commercial arbitration as an adjunct professor at Florida International University College of Law (FIU). He also serves as a visiting professor at Instituto de Empresa (IE) Law School in Madrid and at the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB) in Mallorca, Spain.