In a bombshell dropped only days before trial, Bob Martinez filed a motion to recuse Judge Echarte in the Miami Megaplan suit, and the Judge granted the motion:
Are you kidding me? It pains me to say this, but Bohrer is right -- that motion is a crock. And why did Judge Echarte grant it? My guess here is that Martinez didn't think the motion would be granted, but wanted it in his pocket for appeal. The timing certainly is curious, to say the least.
Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Pedro Echarte Jr.'s mother is first cousins with attorney Bob Martinez's sister-in-law. The judge signed the recusal order from the high-profile case after Martinez, representing auto dealer Norman Braman, requested he no longer oversee it.
The Braman team's legal move came after a series of court decisions have gone against the millionaire businessman -- and in favor of the city, county and Florida Marlins, who would benefit from the slate of public-works projects Braman is trying to stop.
''I'd say Mr. Braman thought he was going to lose,'' said Marlins attorney Sanford Bohrer -- who represents The Miami Herald and other media in other matters.
Bohrer called Martinez's request ``the weakest motion to disqualify I've ever seen.''
Martinez said the rulings played no part in his request, writing that the judge should remove himself ``because of the court's desire to ensure that no one could question its impartiality in hindsight.''
Martinez, a former U.S. attorney, learned of the relationship Tuesday evening from his brother, and said he confirmed it Wednesday. ''In order to avoid any issues, we thought the prudent thing to do was to file a motion and bring it to the court's attention,'' he said.
Did Judge Echarte not want to preside over this trial, because otherwise the prudent thing to do would have been to deny the motion and allow Martinez to take an interlocutory appeal, which would have been denied. Wow. While Echarte goes away on his vacation, the case now goes before poor Judge Jeri Beth Cohen, who is in the midst of a tough reelection campaign.
This is a case of hot potato -- surely Judge Cohen's mother's sister's second niece twice removed is related to someone on the trial team? For her sake I hope so.