The Broward Circuit Court (where felonies are tried) will be holding the first in what appears to be a long line of public corruption trials involving former Broward County elected officials.
Many of the charges stem from accusations that elected officials received improper gifts in exchange for voting in a manner favorable to the donor.
In these cases that are set to go to trial, a number of public officials (namely city officials from Tamarac) are accused of accepting bribes from a Coral Springs-based father and son property development firm. Specifically, the accusations state that the father and son gave money to the elected officials so that the officials would vote in favor of their development projects.
Public corruption cases can be two-fold. On one hand, an elected official is a popular target. Prosecutors must appear to be tough when it comes to allegations of public corruption, despite what may be weak evidence.
On the other hand, juries (comprised of the public that elects these people) hate to think that their government is involved in illegal activity, so a bias may exist.
The first trial will be that of a Tamarac city commissioner. Several more may follow depending on the verdict.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami-Dade and Broward.