MIAMI (CBS4) – A Miami judge has banned Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones from seeking a third term in office.
The ruling came down from Circuit Court Judge Jorge E. Cueto Tuesday in favor of Reverend Richard Dunn. In part, the ruling said, “”…Spence-Jones is prohibited by the City of Miami Charter from seeking a third consecutive term.”
Dunn filed a lawsuit to prevent Spence-Jones from serving a third term, claiming that although she didn’t fulfill her two terms due to a suspension, she received back pay when she was reinstated. “She was paid for the time that when she returned to office, she was paid retroactively, all the money that she lost during that time,” said Dunn. “They factored in her pension for that time period and the legal fees were also paid from the City of Miami.”
Late Tuesday, Rev. Dunn spoke to CBS 4’s Ted Scouten.
“I’m humbled by the judge’s decision,” he said. “I understand how she feels, but we’re going by what the charter says, that’s all we have to do is look at the charter, it’s pretty clear.”
In January 2010 Spence-Jones was suspended by then-Governor Charlie Crist during an investigation into possible misuse of office. During that time Dunn filled her seat on the commission.
After being cleared of all charges, Spence-Jones returned to her seat in September 2011. The following month, City Attorney Julie Bru ruled that Spence-Jones could run for a third term since she didn’t fulfill her two terms.
Dunn’s attorney and former State Rep. J.C. Planas argued that Spence-Jones should not be allowed to run for a third term in November since she did receive back pay for the time she missed, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald. He also argued that Spence-Jones remained a commissioner during her suspension which is not the same as being removed from office.
Spence-Jones’ attorney Bruce Rogow argued that while the commissioner was suspended, she was unable to fill her second term because she was not able to perform any “official act, duty, or function” of her office. He plans to appeal the verdict.
Meanwhile, Dunn has already filed to run and is actively campaigning for the November election.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.