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Biased Comments Bench Fla. Judge

Posted Dec 20, 2007 1:26 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A Florida appeals court has removed a state judge from presiding over a blackmail case in which her comments implied that she might not be fair to the prosecution.

After Grammy-winning singer, Alejandro Sanz, who is the victim of the alleged blackmail attempt, objected to his deposition in the criminal case being videotaped, Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Rosa Rodriguez reportedly accused a lawyer for Sanz of "playing games" and threatened to jail the attorney. She also said, referring to Sanz, "I don't know what the deal is with this guy. I have never seen a case where you have an alleged victim of an alleged crime who doesn't want to show up and testify," writes the Associated Press.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal sided with prosecutors in the dispute that resulted, ruling yesterday that Rodriguez should not continue to preside over the case. "If the trial judge considers the alleged victim to be a game-player whose actions are absurd, then the state ... runs the risk that the trial court's findings might be influenced by these expressed impressions," it said in its written decision.

Another judge will now be assigned to oversee the February extortion trial of Sylvia Alzate, 48, and her husband Carlos Gonzalez, 37. The couple formerly worked for Sanz at his Miami Beach mansion, and allegedly threatened to release damaging information about the singer to the media unless he paid them $500,000.

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