Judge in Elian Custody Case Cleared Of Wrongdoing
(CNSNews.com) - Prosecutors in Florida have dropped criminal charges against the Miami judge who granted custody of Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez to his American relatives.
Miami-Dade County prosecutors dropped campaign finance charges against Circuit Judge Rosa Rodriguez, who drew national attention last January when she ruled in favor of the US family of Gonzalez, the six-year-old boy who was rescued at sea in 1999 and brought to Florida only to be forcibly taken and returned to Cuba.
Rodriguez agreed to pay a $500 fine and give a speech to other judges detailing her fundraising pitfalls.
She was charged with violating the $500 limit on contributions during her 1998 judicial campaign after she funneled a $200,000 campaign loan from a former boyfriend through her brother.
The case was assigned to Polk County, Florida prosecutors in central Florida because of potential conflicts of interest for Miami-Dade prosecutors. Polk officials told reporters that proving criminal intent against Rodriguez would have been difficult.
Rodriguez has been on "paid leave" because of the investigation. A spokesman in Miami told reporters she was "very pleased" with the decision.
However, Rodriguez could still face disciplinary action from Florida's Judicial Qualifications Commission because of the Elian case. She granted custody of the child to his great-uncle in Miami. She later withdrew from the case after it was discovered that a liaison for Elian's Miami relatives had been her campaign consultant.
Meanwhile, Spencer Eig, one of the lawyers who represented Elian's Miami relatives in the case that eventually saw the child returned to Cuba with his father was pleased at the outcome.
"I was actually quite happy to see that. I thought that she was a very fine judge and I am glad that she will be able to continue in public service," Eig said Wednesday.