Law Department

The City Attorney supervises and administers the City’s Law Department. The city attorney and assistant city attorneys shall be members in good standing of the Florida Bar, licensed to practice law.  Pursuant to the City Charter and Code, the City Attorney shall represent the city, and elected or appointed officials, boards and commissions, and employee complaints, suits, and controversies where they are acting in the course and scope of their official duties or employment, or may elect to intervene in relation to such proceedings.

  1. Rafael E. Suarez-Rivas, B.C.S.

    City Attorney

    Rafael Suarez-Rivas was appointed Hialeah City Attorney in 2023. He is certified by the Florida Bar in City, County, and Local Government Law. Mr. Suarez Rivas has served local governments for the vast majority of his career including serving as an Assistant City Attorney, Senior Assistant City Attorney, Chief Assistant City Attorney, and Assistant County Attorney. He has represented various quasi-judicial boards and municipal agencies, departments, and instrumentalities.

  2. Barbara T. Govea

    Deputy City Attorney

    Barbara Teresa Govea joined the Office of the City Attorney in January of 2020 as an Assistant City Attorney and Police Legal Advisor for the City of Hialeah Police Department.  Ms. Govea presently serves as Deputy City Attorney.  She began her legal career as an Assistant State Attorney where she served as a prosecutor for almost 20 years.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology from Boston University and later earned her Juris Doctor from Tulane University School of Law.

  3. Alexander J. Magrisso

    Assistant City Attorney

    Alexander J. Magrisso joined the Office of the City Attorney in January of 2022 as an Assistant City Attorney where he handles Land Use, Zoning and Real Estate matters and serves as counsel to the Planning and Zoning Board and the Special Magistrate in Code Enforcement proceedings.  Prior to joining the Office of the City Attorney, Alexander worked in the private sector. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Finance from the University of Central Florida and later earned his Juris Doctor from St. Thomas University School of Law before joining the Florida Bar in 2020.  

  4. Michele Samaroo

    Assistant City Attorney

    Ms. Samaroo attended Emory University and Barry University for her undergraduate education and received her Juris Doctor from the Florida State University College of Law. She is admitted to practice before the Florida Supreme Court and all courts in the State of Florida in addition to the United States District Court for the Southern, Middle, and Northern Districts of Florida and the District of Columbia.

    She served as an Assistant Public Defender, an Assistant State Attorney and twice as an Assistant Attorney General. Ms. Samaroo spent several years as a civil litigator for an insurance company and ran her own law firm. She was also the sole General Magistrate for the 11th Judicial Circuit's Foreclosure Economic Recovery Program. 

    Most recently she has served as Deputy and Assistant City Attorneys for the cities of Hallandale Beach, Port St Lucie, Miami Gardens, North Miami Beach and Opa-locka. Additionally, for several years she taught Labor Relations and Employment Law in her role as an Adjunct Professor for Barry University. 

     Ms. Samaroo is a Board Certified Specialist in City, County and Local Government Law and serves on the City, County and Local Government Certification Committee. She is also a member of the MDFAWL Foundation Board. She was the 2022-2023 President of the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association and the 2008-2009 President of the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. Bar Association. She served on the Florida Bar's Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors from 2009-2013 and the Board of Directors for Legal Services of Greater Miami. She was the recipient of the 2008 H.T. Smith President's Award, In Focus Magazine's 2008 Multi-Cultural Achiever of the Year Award and was recognized by Success Magazine as one of 2009's 40 under 40 Leaders of Today and Tomorrow. Ms. Samaroo has been a licensed realtor since 2006 and is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

  5. Raymond Sales

    Assistant City Attorney and Police Legal Advisor for the City of Hialeah Police Department

    Raymond J. Sales joined the Office of the City Attorney in November of 2023 as an Assistant City Attorney and Police Legal Advisor for the City of Hialeah Police Department.  He began his legal career as an Assistant State Attorney. He then represented clients in First Party Insurance Litigation and later served as a Police Legal Advisor with the Miami Dade County Police Department.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Florida International University and later earned his Juris Doctor from St. Thomas University School of Law.

  6. Marbelys Fatjo, Esq., CMC

    Affiliated Attorney

    Marbelys Fatjo has been employed by the City of Hialeah since 2005 where she commenced her career in the public sector.  She has had the opportunity to serve the City and its residents in the capacities of Administrative Aide in the Office of the Mayor, Assistant City Attorney in the Law Department, and as the City Clerk.  She earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Florida International University and later earned a Juris Doctor from Nova Southeastern University School of Law.  Marbelys was appointed Assistant City Attorney for the City of Hialeah in 2011 and later was appointed the City Clerk.  She is a certified municipal clerk.  She serves as the City’s custodian of public records and is responsible for conducting those phases of public elections not delegated by law to the state or county government.  

  7. Elsa I. Jaramillo-Velez, Esq.

    Affiliated Attorney

    Elsa I. Jaramillo-Velez has been working in the public sector for nearly 25 years. Currently, Mrs. Jaramillo-Velez is the Human Resources Director at the City of Hialeah and is an affiliated attorney of the Law Department. She served as Interim City Attorney from July – September 2023, while continuing to handle the day to say duties and responsibilities of being the Human Resources Director.   She previously served for 3 years as an Assistant City Attorney in the Law Department specializing in labor and employment which involved union negotiations and contracts, grievances and arbitrations, disability retirement benefits, FMLA, ADA, USERRA, FLSA, EEOC allegations of discrimination based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and other state and federal laws. She also handled other aspects of local government – such as procurement, contract-administration, Grants, Emergency Management, garnishment, and forfeitures.

    Prior to being employed at the City of Hialeah, Ms. Jaramillo-Velez was the Director of Human Resources and Risk Management at the City of North Miami Beach. She also served for nearly 7 years as the Director of Human Resources at the City of Coral Gables. Mrs. Jaramillo-Velez previously worked at the City of Miami as the Interim Director/Deputy Director in the Department of Employee Relations.  While at the City of Miami (serving over 10 years), Mrs. Jaramillo-Velez also served as an Assistant City Attorney in the City Attorney’s Office assigned to the Employment & Land Use Divisions.

    In her capacity as an Attorney and Human Resources professional, she works closely with the Mayor or City Manager (depending on governmental structure) regarding all aspects of labor and employment/personnel matters. She has served as the City’s representative before the Personnel/Civil Service Board and before arbitrators handling employment disciplines and grievances. She has also served as counsel/member for various boards/committees, including the Coral Gables Retirement/Pension Board and the City of Miami Coconut Grove Business Improvement Committee, the Historic Environmental Preservation Board, the Plat & Street Committee and the Urban Development & Review Board.

    Mrs. Jaramillo-Velez has a law degree from the University of Florida, College of Law, and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Florida International University. She is a member in good standing of the Florida Bar.  She also served from 2013- 2019 as an adjunct professor at FIU, teaching Human Resources Management & Policy in the MPA Program as well as Collective Bargaining in the Public Sector in the EMPA Program. Currently, Mrs. Jaramillo-Velez is a member of the International Municipal Law Association (IMLA), MDCCMA, and serves as a member of the FIU MPA Advisory Board.

  8. Delilah Alfonso

    Executive Legal Assistant to Deputy City Attorney Barbara Govea

Please note that because the Law Department represents and advises the City of Hialeah, the Law Department cannot provide legal advice or recommend an attorney to the public.  In addition, the content on this site is offered for informational purposes only and does not constitute the solicitation or provision of legal advice or services.  As such, this site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction.