Spence-Jones in a fight to clear her name
caines | 12/13/2012, 4:30 a.m.
The big news at the City of Miami, at the courthouse and in Miami-Dade County in general is that Michelle Spence-Jones, City of Miami Commissioner, has filed a lawsuit against State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Prosecutor William Scruggs, Investigator Robert Fiedler and Mayor Tomas Regalado. Spence-Jones contends that the three criminal charges brought against her were fraudulent and trumped up by her political enemies who did not want her on the dais as a City Commissioner. Normally, I reserve my comments about a pending lawsuit, because anybody can make any allegation in a lawsuit, and that does not mean that the allegations are true. However, in this instance, it is public knowledge that two prosecution witnesses, former Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler and Armando Codina, both feel that they were misled by prosecutors. The lawsuit contends that the State Attorneyss Office misled witnesses in order to create a case against Spence-Jones. How can you bring a case on the basis that Michelle Spence-Jones forged a letter to get County funding without Carey-Shulers knowledge, when the file from the Commissioners office clearly contained drafts of the letter edited by Carey-Shuler in her handwriting? How can you state that Spence-Jones took a bribe from Codina based on fake fundraiser, when the fundraiser took place, was attended by hundreds of individuals and the funds were in the Dade Community Foundation bank account? How can you be accused of taking a bribe when you never touched the money and never controlled the money? The State Attorney Office represents the People of the State of Florida and should only bring a criminal charge against a person if there is a good faith belief that they can prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. If the State Attorneys Office knowingly charges an innocent person of a crime, then this is a clear breach of the offices duty to the public. It puts into question the integrity of our criminal justice system. If prosecutors abuse their power and bring frivolous cases against innocent people, then the entire justice system is undermined. It brings into question whether former Congressman David Rivera was not prosecuted because he was a politically-powerful Cuban politician. It brings into question whether former Commissioner Teele was going to be falsely accused and could not take the prospect of undergoing the damage to his reputation and therefore killed himself. How many people have been falsely accused? How many politicians who should have been charged were not because they were so powerful? I know that being prosecuted and facing the prospect of going to jail will turn anyones life upside down. Spence-Jones went from winning her district in a landslide election to being accused of being a criminal. It hurt her reputation, it hurt her career, it cost her a lot of money and it impacted her family life. She is a woman of modest means and had to come out of pocket to pay her lawyers. The fact that she has been found innocent will never remove the stain, because every time someone googles her the charges will come back to life. Reginald J. Clyne is a partner at Clyne and Associates, P.A. of Miami/Fort Lauderdale.