Miami

Miami’s Spence-Jones and Dunn to face off in court again on Wednesday in battle over commission seat

 

crabin@miamiherald.com

Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Marc Schumacher has scheduled a status hearing for 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Rev. Richard P. Dunn II’s attempt to halt Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones from running for a third term.

Schumacher was chosen randomly last week to take over the case after Circuit Court Judge Jorge E. Cueto removed himself for not informing the parties that he had investigated Spence-Jones as a state prosecutor in a 2007 probe involving a large planned development in Coconut Grove. The development never materialized, and the investigation died.

Late Friday, Spence-Jones’ attorney Bruce Rogow and the city of Miami filed motions asking Schumacher to vacate Cueto’s ruling — which held that the commissioner is term-limited — and to rehear the case.

Dunn filed a lawsuit in February arguing that a decision by the city attorney to allow Spence-Jones to run for a third term was flawed. City Attorney Julie Bru said the city charter allows for two full terms, and that Spence-Jones is eligible for another term after missing 21 months in office while she was suspended by the governor during legal battles against the state.

Spence-Jones won a court fight over a felony charge. Prosecutors dropped a separate case against her.

Two weeks ago Dunn and Spence-Jones faced off in Cueto’s court, with Cueto ruling Spence-Jones was term limited and could not run for a third term because she qualified to run, then was elected a second time, as the city charter stipulates. The judge also noted a 1999 public referendum approving a charter amendment in which 73 percent of the voters backed setting term limits for Miami elected officials.

A week later Cueto recused himself after Spence-Jones’ attorney, Rogow, filed a motion asking that the judge “disqualify” himself for not informing the parties of his role as a state prosecutor in the Coconut Grove investigation.

The judge stepped down, but his order that Spence-Jones could not run for a third term stood and will be the subject of Wednesday’s hearing.

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