Exposito's Injunction Denied By Judge

All five commissioners will be allowed to vote on Miami's top cop's fate

Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito's attempt to keep two city commissioners from voting on his fate was denied at a court hearing Thursday morning.

Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Barbara Areces denied Exposito's request for a temporary injunction to keep Commissioners Willy Gort and Francis Suarez from voting on City Manager Johnny Martinez's firing of the chief.

The hearing lasted 45 minutes and was attended by Exposito, but not by Gort or Suarez, who were represented by attorney Scott Cole.

The chief refused to comment afterwards, but his attorney, Ruben Chavez, said he hopes the commissioners will be fair and impartial.

"The actions of these two particular commissioners will determine whether or not they can judge the charges levied against the chief fairly and impartially outside from any all positions they may have held before today," Chavez said.

Exposito had filed the injunction Tuesday -- the same day he was suspended by Martinez -- claiming Gort and Suarez were biased against him.

"The injunction sought is to ensure a fair hearing on the matter at hand due to the inability of Commissioners Gort and Suarez to render a fair and impartial judgement, thereby guaranteeing a fair and impartial hearing as required by procedural due process," it read.

Read Exposito's Injunction [PDF].

But Cole argued that the law requires the commissioners to vote unless there's a conflict of interest, and Areces said there was no conflict.

The commissioners will be voting at Friday's city commission meeting on whether to fire the chief or reverse Martinez's decision and reinstate Exposito. A majority of three out of five votes is needed either way.

In a memo sent from Martinez to Exposito, the city manager gave two reasons for suspending Exposito, including his taking the responsibilities from three police commanders without consulting Martinez and the chief's failure to reduce overtime expenses.

Maj. Manuel Orosa, a 31-year veteran of the department, was appointed as interim chief.

Exposito became chief in November 2009, after joining the Miami Police Department in 1974. He quickly fell out of favor with Mayor Tomas Regalado when he began to crack down on the city's gaming machines. The chief claimed Regalado was interfering with the investigation.

Chavez said he and Exposito will continue to fight for the chief's job.

"We intend to, and will present, a strong case in the two points raised by City Manager Martinez," Chavez said.

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