Miami police union: Remove star struck judge from trial

11/25/2012 12:00 AM

11/21/2012 12:47 PM

The Miami police union is requesting a judge be taken off the case after he had a court aide snap photographs of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado.

The police union sued Miami for allegedly violating Florida’s Sunshine Law by allowing “unauthorized individuals” to attend a closed-door meeting in 2010. Regalado testified on Nov. 5 before Judge Spencer Eig.

In a signed affidavit, Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Javier Ortiz said Eig handed a cell phone to a court employee, who then used the phone as a camera. Ortiz did not know exactly who or what was photographed.

“But the cell phone was pointed toward the front of the courtroom, where both the court was presiding and the witness, Mayor Regalado, was testifying,” he said. “It appeared to me that the court personnel was taking photographs of the mayor and the judge.”

The union wants Eig off the trial.

“The FOP has an objectively reasonable belief that the trial judge will show bias and favoritism toward the city, and the FOP has an objectively reasonable belief and well-grounded fear that it will not receive a fair trial,” union attorney Robert Cohen wrote in court papers filed last week.

A court spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Regalado said it was a bailiff who wanted the photograph — and called the situation “silly.”

“The judge was doing a favor to the bailiff, who knew me from the radio and TV,” he said.

Regalado said Eig himself didn’t seem star struck: “I’m sure that the judge has had more important people and more popular people in his chambers.”

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