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Judge’s Past Resurfaces In Michelle Spence-Jones Case

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Former Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones

Former Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones

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MIAMI – (CBS4) – A Miami-Dade judge Tuesday morning denied the state’s motion asking that she remove herself from presiding over former Miami commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones’ bribery case.

State prosecutors cited Judge Rosa Rodriguez’s past public corruption case in 1998. 

Back then, Rodriguez had been charged with two misdemeanors over improper campaign contributions – however, both charges were eventually dropped.

In that case, Rodriguez did face a public reprimand and a four month suspension from the bench.

In their filing, prosecutors wrote that Judge Rodriguez’s “past personal judicial problems” could cause her to side against the state. 

Spence-Jones defense attorney Peter Raben responded in a written motion that those allegations border “on absurdity.” 

Spence-Jones faces a bribery charge and grand theft charge after investigators found that Miami developer Armando Codina and another chief developer, Richard Glas, had made a $12,5000 donation to the Friends of MLK Trust, which Spence-Jones ran from her office. 

At the time, Codina was awaiting a vote from city commissioners on a downtown development project. 

Prosecutors said Codina thought the money would be going to an event honoring former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler. Investigators said they found that the money never went to the Carey-Shuler event and the Trust wasn’t established until months later. 

In sworn statements, Spence-Jones later admitted that she solicited Codina for the money. Her attorney said she was in her legal rights to ask for the money which he said went to benefit the residents of her district. 

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)

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