Altanese Phenelus is an Assistant County Attorney in the Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office. She currently practices in the Aviation Division, where she litigates commercial and construction disputes on behalf of Miami International Airport and the County’s general aviation airports. She also provides counsel on transportation, security, and property-related matters, and handles multi-million dollar construction and development contracts on behalf of the airports. Altanese also advises the Board of County Commissioners and staff, and prepares and reviews legislation on their behalf.
Prior to practicing in the Aviation Division, Altanese practiced in the Zoning, Land Use and Environmental Section as well as the Tort Liability and Medical Malpractice Section. During that time, she successfully argued two appeals before the Third District Court of Appeal, one concerning a constitutional challenge to Miami-Dade County’s environmental regulations, and the other involving issues of notice and sovereign immunity in a tort action.
Altanese earned her Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Florida International University. While in law school, Altanese was on the executive board of the FIU Law Review and served as the President of the National Conference of Law Reviews. She won the FIU Law Moot Court Competition and then joined the FIU Law Moot Court Board. Altanese had the distinction of arguing before senior circuit judges of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals as well as the then chief judge of the Third District Court of Appeal.
In addition to her service on the FIU Law Review executive board and the FIU Law Moot Court Board, Altanese interned and clerked. She was a judicial intern to the Honorable Marcia G. Cooke of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida and clerked at the United States Attorney’s Office, Economic Crimes Section. She clerked for the Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office and her outstanding work led to her being offered a position as an attorney in the office.
Passionate about giving back to the youth, Altanese frequently speaks at elementary, middle, and high schools about the practice of law and the importance of education. She also mentors students from middle school up to law school, and often lends her support and knowledge to law students in moot court and trial team competitions.
As part of her personal commitment to justice, Altanese has been an active member of the Haitian Lawyers Association (HLA) since law school and is now the President of the organization. She has helped organize various HLA-sponsored events, including but not limited to, immigration screening clinics, forums concerning Temporary Protected Status, Seal and Expungement events, and Continuing Legal Education courses. Altanese has also played a vital role in drafting various letters to local, state and federal leaders in support of and against matters affecting the Haitian community. And in helping the future legal minds of the Haitian community, Altanese has organized HLA’s scholarship gala where law students of Haitian descent are awarded scholarships annually.
Altanese also serves her community through the Social Justice Ministry at her church, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church of Miami Gardens, where she has helped organize immigration forums, judicial candidate forums and panel discussions concerning gun violence and Amendment 4.
Altanese remains passionate about and devoted to tackling the issues affecting her fellow Haitians and those within the local community.