Judge punts decision on dispute over search of defendant's cell phone

Defendant Richard Miller is accused of gunning down his ex-girlfriend, Renee Williams after she ended their relationship. But Miller’s alleged crime had little to do with Wednesday's hearing.

Instead, the focus was on Miller’s public defender Dana Herce, who brought her own attorney to court. 

At issue was a search warrant issued by a Tampa Judge to allow investigators to go through Miller's cell phone. Prosecutor John Terry says it never happened.  

They blame Herce, who they claim told Miller to ignore the judge’s order to provide his password.

"Judge Stoddard issued it in good faith. She put her own beliefs of the law, above Judge Stoddard’s, and told him not to abide by the judge’s order that is contemptible act judge," argued Terry. 

Prosecutors wanted Herce to explain to the judge why she did it.

Herce, who has handled some of the most high profile cases in Hillsborough County is know for her passion and vigor in the courtroom. Herce's attorney Greg Kehoe said it comes down to protecting her client’s rights from government interference. 

"When you turn over a password code that is covered by the Fifth Amendment act of production. My client brought that to her client Mr. Miller's attention and they invoked the fifth,“ explained Kehoe. 

But Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren sees it differently.

"The importance of today is not about access to information. We need it’s about an attorney obstructing justice in saying she is not going to abide by a court order," Warren said.

However, Hillsborough Judge Paul Huey didn’t get all the fuss.

"He's in jail he's not going anywhere and you have the phone. Yeah maybe it was a screw-up but guess what? Nothing's lost. We don't have any evidence destroyed we don't have any evidence lost," the judge said.

And with that, Judge Huey decided to punt the issue to the judge that will oversee the murder case. It’s clear by Wednesday's hearing, both sides will be ready.