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Lawsuit contesting results in Miami-Dade mayor's race won't be heard until October

The lawsuit filed by a defeated candidate contesting last month's results in the Miami-Dade mayor's race won't be heard until October -- after the deadline to set the ballot for the Nov. 6 general election.

That preliminary timeline means that even if County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, the plaintiff, were to get the court to throw out some or all of the nearly 90,000 absentee ballots cast in the Aug. 14 race, a potential runoff against incumbent Mayor Carlos Gimenez would not be on the general-election ballot. Instead, the court would have to set a special runoff election sometime after Nov. 6.

The county elections department's deadline to draw up the lengthy general-election ballot is Friday. Attorneys for Martinez, Gimenez and the county agreed at a cordial meeting Tuesday afternoon that there is no way to resolve the case by then.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rosa I. Rodriguez said she would like to hold a hearing on the matter in about a month, by mid-October. She did not set a date Tuesday, however, citing a jammed schedule. The judge and attorneys plan to settle on a date soon.

Meantime, the attorneys said they would move to hear the case -- or "consolidate" it -- with a similar lawsuit filed by Property Appraiser Pedro J. Garcia against the candidate who defeated him, state Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

Garcia and Martinez, both represented by attorney Stephen Cody, are asking the court to discard absentee votes, citing ongoing investigations that resulted in the arrests of two suspected Hialeah ballot brokers, known as boleteros. (Two more defeated candidates have sued citing the Hialeah arrests; a third said he would sue over separate absentee-ballot concerns.)

Police have linked 195 absentee ballots to suspected ballot collectors in Hialeah, including the two who have been charged, Deisy Cabrera and Sergio Robaina. Six were seized as part of the investigation and not counted; four were rejected because of faulty signatures.

Cabrera has been charged with one count of voter fraud after police say she forged a terminally ill woman's signature; Robaina has been charged with two counts for allegedly filling out two ballots against the voters' intentions. Both also face minor charges for violating a county ordinance that limits the number of absentee ballots a person can possess.

Kendall Coffey, one of Gimenez's attorneys, noted Tuesday that only 10 of the 195 ballots in question did not count in the election. The remaining 185 were linked to the investigation because they "were simply misdelivered" by boleteros violating a county ordinance, he said.

"That means that the will of the voter was nonetheless expressed," Coffey said.

Cody, however, said the ballots are an indicator of a wider problem. "That is not the disease, but a symptom," he said.

Coffey countered that Cody's claim is "an aspiration" looking for proof. "He hopes he can prove it" by the October hearing, Coffey said of Cody.

Said Cody: "We're not talking about just one or two people. We're talking about an entire industry."

Comments

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marva Lightbourne

..delay tactics by this judge, it's not right for delaying this until after the nov.6th election..who is he working for ??..who side is he on ??.. obviously not for the people & SWIFT JUSTICE !!.. playing games again with the VOTERS !!..atty. cody this bone of contention for US, THE VOTERS should be again challegned !!.. something is WRONG WITH THIS DELAYING !!!..chairwomen concerned citizens committee, inc, & Ms. HELEN WILLIAMS ( former candidate for county mayor, coming in 3rd behind JOE MARTINEZ, with 6% /14,549 votes casted...

marva Lightbourne

..ROSA RODRIQUEZ, is to busy ( jammed schedule ?? ).or her calender is overbooked ???...what !!..then get another judge .. this is the PEOPLE'S CONCERNS & it a pressing matter Ms. Judge RODRIQUEZ..who & where can I file a complaint with ???.. unbelievable !!!..concerned citizens committee, inc & Ms. Helen Williams

R.T.J.


Chief Justice of Florida Supreme Court: Good Morning everyone...Judge Rosa I. Rodriguez, the misconduct that has required your presence here today can be summarized succinctly from the judicial qualifications Commission's findings. To paraphrase,when runninig for Judicial Office in 1998, you accepted a questionable $200,000 loan to be used for your campaign. However, you falsely stated, in numerous campaign documents, that the loan had come from someone other than its true source. You, also, failed to deposit the loan money by the time required by law and filed subsequent campaign and publicdisclosure documents that continued to make false statements about the loan and your indebtedness...Judge Rodriguez, through actions that is displayed a lack of judicial integrity...your actions also called into question your repect for the law..Campaign misconduct includes deception of the type you engaged in here... Then the Judge was suspended for 4 months, $40,000 and the Court reprimand.
I question, this is the jdge handleing the absentee voting fraud? Judge for yourselves.

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