FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Broward Circuit Court judge charged with DUI returned to the bench on Thursday morning to hear arguments that a man recommended to receive the death penalty for the murder of his landlord should be retried.
Judge Cynthia Imperato was arrested in Boca Raton last month and charged with driving under the influence. Since her arrest, she had only been handling foreclosure cases and leaving all of her pending cases to Judge Paul Backman.
But Imperato wasn't letting another judge decide the fate of Randy Tundidor Sr.
"My client is now sworn to the fact he doesn't believe that your honor can be fair and impartial in light of the circumstances," his attorney, Richard Rosenbaum, told Imperato.
In May, jurors convicted Tundidor of murdering Nova Southeastern University professor Joseph Morrissey and attempted murder of his wife and son. They unanimously recommended the death penalty.
"It's been a long two years for us," said the professor's wife, Linda Morrissey. "It's been very torturing."
Rosenbaum filed two motions Thursday: one for Imperato to step aside, and another for a new trial, arguing that with Imperato off the case, another judge cannot handle sentencing without sitting through the entire trial.
"She's being prosecuted by the same state of Florida that's prosecuting Randy Tundidor," said Rosenbaum. "Randy fears that she might be trying to curry favor with the state by ruling against him in certain manners or that -- worse than that -- she's trying to save face with the public at this point."
Imperato said she would review the file and case law before making her decision.
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