Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch, who scolded the family of a murder victim that complained on television about the accused killer being placed on house arrest, has been ordered off the case.
The Third District Court of Appeal ruled Friday that a motion for Hirsch to disqualify himself was legally sufficient and his comments “were such that the facts alleged would place a reasonably prudent person in fear of not receiving a fair and impartial trial.”
Hirsch and Assistant State Attorney Christina Johnson, who petitioned the Third District for a writ of prohibition, could not be reached for comment Monday. Courts and the state attorney’s office were closed for Veterans Day.
Defense attorney Ed Martinez also was not at his office.
Hirsch told Johnson the family of the dead man showed “great disrespect” for him and the justice system by talking about the case on the Spanish-language network Telemundo, The Miami Herald reported when the judge ordered bail and house arrest Oct. 15 for Emin Rosales Ramirez.
Rosales, 33, is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Oscar Padilla, 62, and wounding of his wife, Iris Colindres, 51. Authorities say Rosales, looking to kill Colindres’ two adult sons, ambushed the couple Aug. 4 as they drove in Brownsville.
“We’re not allowed to use our First Amendment right? All we said is that we’re afraid for our lives,” Colindres’ niece, Sandra Ortiz, told The Herald.
Miami-Dade police detectives said Rosales believed Colindres’ sons spray-painted “cornudo,” street slang for cuckold, on his truck.
Johnson argued that Rosales should remain behind bars because he was a danger to the community.
Martinez told The Herald he thinks an unknown gunman killed Padilla in a road rage incident. His client filed a police report before the shooting because the Colindres’ sons threatened him, he said.
“They didn’t like my client so they pinned the crime on him,” Martinez told the newspaper.
Johnson asked Hirsch to withdraw from the case, but the judge denied the motion Oct. 31.
Third District Judges Richard Suarez, Angel Cortiñas and Ivan Fernandez agreed Johnson’s petition established a basis for disqualification.
“We therefore grant the petition for writ of prohibition, but being confident that the trial judge will withdraw, we need not formally issue the writ,” they said.
A status hearing on the case is scheduled for 9 a.m. today.