Judge Cueto should have disclosed involvement
caines | 4/18/2013, 5:30 a.m.
Reverend Richard Dunn filed a lawsuit to prevent City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones from running for office. She has handily beaten him in two prior elections, is very popular in District 5 and in a head-to-head race, she would probably beat him again. Dunn, in a brilliant tactical move, decided to ensure his chances of winning by knocking Spence-Jones out of the race through a lawsuit. Spence-Jones was removed from office because of three separate charges filed by the State Attorneys Office. She beat one charge at trial, and the two other charges were eventually dropped because the State Attorney simply did not have a viable case. Spence Jones has filed a mega-lawsuit against the State Attorneys Office for false prosecution and misconduct, because the weak cases brought against her in effect tarnished her good name and led to her removal from office. Jorge Cueto, the judge who heard the Dunn vs. Spence Jones case, was one of the prosecutors involved in the investigation of Spence-Jones. He will be a material and adverse witness in Spence-Jones cases against the State Attorney, Katherine Fernandez-Rundle . . . Jorge Cueto, the judge who heard the Dunn vs. Spence Jones case, was one of the prosecutors involved in the investigation of Spence-Jones. He will be a material and adverse witness in Spence-Jones cases against the State Attorney, Katherine Fernandez-Rundle. Based on the Florida Supreme Courts Ethical Opinions, 2005-05, Judge Cueto should have at a minimum disclosed his prior activity in a case against Spence-Jones, so the parties could determine whether he should be disqualified from hearing the Dunn v. Spence-Jones case. Based on the Judicial Canon of Ethics, a judge must maintain an appearance of impartiality. Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.160 allows judges to be disqualified if they are a material witness in a case for or against one of the parties. As a result of his failure to disclose or recuse himself, the entire opinion rendered by the Cueto is now suspect, because it appears that he has a bias against Spence-Jones. What should happen now is that Judge Cueto should recuse himself and a new, impartial judge should be assigned to hear the case. Reginald J. Clyne is a partner at Clyne and Associates, P.A. of Miami/Fort Lauderdale