After 50 days, 3 jurors quitting and $2M in legal bills, Carollo trial near finish line

Defense rests case Tuesday, closing arguments begin Wednesday

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – It’s been 50 calendar days since the federal civil trial for Miami City Commissioner Joe Carollo began.

It started in Broward County, moved to Miami-Dade for a few weeks and then back to Broward.

The marathon trial has lasted so long, three jurors have dropped out, but now it is finally approaching the finish line.

On Tuesday, defense attorneys for Carollo rested their case, and the judge announced closing arguments will begin Wednesday morning.

Since the case was filed in 2018, taxpayers have spent nearly $2 million on Carollo’s defense.

He’s being sued by Miami businessmen Bill Fuller and Martin Pinilla, who allege the longtime South Florida politician used his office to harass them and damage their reputations, all because they supported his political opponent in 2017.

Throughout the trial, jurors listened to testimony from dozens of witnesses as attorneys for Fuller and Pinilla painted a picture of a commissioner who has gone too far, trying to convince the jury that he is a man who would bully city staff and anyone else willing to go against him.

They showed clips from council meetings and pictures of Carollo making late-night visits to their properties, claiming the commissioner was obsessed with destroying Fuller and Pinilla.

But defense attorneys did their best to contradict the narrative, saying Carollo wasn’t fixated on the Little Havana entrepreneurs and was instead working for the betterment of his district.

Once closing arguments conclude, the jury will begin deliberations.

It is likely that there will be a series of appeals regardless of the outcome.

About the Author:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.