On Monday, April 22, 2024, the Miami Herald reported that an appeals court had denied an attempt by suspended Miami-Dade County Commissioner Joe Martinez to remove the judge presiding over his ongoing public corruption trial.

Martinez and his legal defense team had filed a motion seeking the recusal of Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Lody Jean, who is overseeing Martinez’s trial on charges of unlawful compensation and conspiracy to commit unlawful compensation related to his time in office. However, in a brief ruling, the three-member appellate court panel reviewing the motion deemed it “legally insufficient” and denied the request.

The latest legal filings will likely further delay the start of Martinez’s jury trial, which began jury selection several weeks ago but was put on hold after an incident in court where Judge Jean spoke with Martinez about his courtroom demeanor. At the time, the potential jury pool was dismissed but told they may be called again pending further legal proceedings.

Now, with the failed recusal attempt resolved, the trial is scheduled to resume jury selection on May 2nd unless a potential plea deal is reached to resolve the case beforehand. Martinez is accused of accepting $15,000 from a shopkeeper in exchange for supporting a proposed law that would benefit the shopping plaza owner, while he was in office in 2016.

If convicted, the 66-year-old former commissioner faces up to 20 years in prison on each charge. He has been suspended from his position by Governor Ron DeSantis since being arrested in August 2022. Martinez had a long career in law enforcement before being elected as a Miami-Dade commissioner for three consecutive terms from 2000 to 2012 and regaining the seat again in 2016 and 2020, though his legal troubles may impact any future political aspirations.



Source: Miami Herald