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Judge Boots Both Prosecutor and Defense Lawyer in Criminal Case

Posted Sep 8, 2011 5:00 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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As a retrial looms in the case of a former sheriff's deputy facing child-abuse charges in Virginia, a hearing yesterday took an unexpected and unusual turn.

Judge Joseph Ellis removed both the prosecutor and defense lawyer in the Caroline County Circuit Court case, saying that their personal animosity for each other was preventing them from handling the case professionally, reports the Free Lance-Star.

"I've been practicing law for 31 years and I've been on the bench for more than 12 years, and I truly can't recall a case that disturbs me more than this one; not because of the charges, but because of the conduct of the two of you," the judge told Commonwealth's Attorney Tony Spencer and defense lawyer John LaFratta as he announced he would replace both lawyers.

His action followed an acrimonious exchange of more than an hour as the two debated pretrial motions in a case against Clyde Davenport, 51.

Afterward, Spencer told the newspaper he was just doing his job and LaFratta said the defense was not to blame for the situation.

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