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Pizzi Wins A Round In Mayoral Fight

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Michael Pizzi was back in a court room Wednesday but a civil, not criminal court room.

The suspended Miami Lakes mayors celebrated last August after being found not guilty on all counts in a federal corruption trial.

Pizzi has been battling ever since to be reinstated to office.

But Wayne Slaton, voted mayor in a special election after Pizzi's arrest, has refused to step aside and the town Council is backing him.

Pizzi has sued in the state court to be returned to office. Wednesday the town brought a motion to dismiss Pizzi's lawsuit.

"A new mayor is elected to serve out the remainder of the term," said attorney Elizabeth Hernandez in court today, representing Mayor Slaton. "That is what the charter says, a new mayor."

CLICK HERE to watch Gary Nelson's report

Slaton and the town insist the mayor's office is his until his term runs out next year.

Governor Rick Scott has refused to reinstate Pizzi, whose attorneys say the governor isn't following the law.

Slaton and the town counter they have a state Supreme Court precedent on their side.

Pizzi and his attorneys say the town is misreading its charter and state law.

"Mayor Pizzi held the office, the suspension was revoked, and he should have automatically retaken the office," argued Ben Kuehne, one of Pizzi's attorneys.

At the end of the hearing Judge Gisela Cardonne Ely refused to toss out Pizzi's lawsuit.

"They are not letting an innocent man back in office," Pizzi said afterwards. "The court did exactly what we asked her to do, the court denied their motion to dismiss."

Slaton watch the ruling go against him, but said he looks forward to a final hearing, "To show why I am the duly elected mayor of the town of Miami lakes, and our charter will prevail in that effort."

The judge set a final hearing on the lawsuit for March 28th.

She commented that she is certain regardless of how she rules, the loser will appeal.

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