Miami-Dade County

Appeals court: Miami Civilian Investigative Panel can investigate police officers

Three years after striking down a challenge of the ability of Miami’s Civilian Investigative Panel to legally investigate and subpoena Miami’s police officers, the Third District Court of Appeal has issued another opinion affirming the validity of the voter-approved agency.

But the issue might end up before the Florida Supreme Court.

In a split opinion filed Wednesday, the entire panel of the appeals court ruled that the city law establishing and empowering the independent oversight agency is valid. The court made a similar ruling three years ago when considering an appeal by Lt. Freddy D’Agastino and Miami’s Fraternal Order of Police, who had unsuccessfully sought to block a Civilian Investigative Panel subpoena in Miami-Dade circuit court. D’Agastino sought a rehearing three years ago, but was denied Wednesday.

But three judges on the panel issued a dissenting opinion, noting that a previous decision by the Fifth District Court of Appeal rendered Orange County’s own civilian panel unlawful. Reached Wednesday, Miami police union president Lt. Javier Ortiz said the union will appeal Wednesday’s decision to the state supreme court.

“If the CIP decides to subpoena any [more] officers, we will also sue in those cases,” Ortiz said.