MIAMI — The families of the two men who died with Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez in a boat crash in September 2016 are asking a Miami-Dade County circuit court judge to disqualify Fernandez’s lawyer, Tampa attorney Ralph Fernandez.
Ralph, no relation to Jose except that Ralph has known Jose and his family for years, may start being treated in the case as a witness instead of lawyer for estate of the former ball player.
To that end, the lawyers who represent the families of the two other men killed, Emilio Macias and Eduardo Rivero, want to have Ralph Fernandez disqualified from the case.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers claim Fernandez became a witness because of his presence when investigators with the Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission visited after the crash and questioned Jose Fernandez’s family members.
“An advocate who becomes a witness is in the unseemly and ineffective position of arguing his own credibility,” the Macias/Rivero families’ motion to have Ralph Fernandez disqualified reads.
Ralph Fernandez declined comment when reached by telephone today.
The Rivero and Macias families want millions in damages because, according to the FWC incident report, Fernandez was piloting the fast boat with a blood alcohol level three times the DUI limit and cocaine in his system when it crashed into a jetty in Miami Beach in complete darkness.
Since the lawsuit was filed a year ago, Ralph Fernandez has been blasting the FWC investigation as flawed and conducted in an unprofessional manner.
According to the report, Ralph Fernandez told FWC sleuths that Jose Fernandez “could ’em down” and would not be surprised if Jose Fernandez was legally drunk when the crash occurred.
While it is rare for a judge to kick a lawyer off a case for things other than incompetence, a hearing has been scheduled for April 23.