Judge Recuses From Courthouse Shooting Case Due to New Yorker Quotes
Posted Jan 31, 2008 6:42 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The Atlanta judge overseeing the prosecution of alleged courthouse shooter Brian Nichols has stepped aside from the case after he was quoted as saying, “Everyone in the world knows he did it.”
Judge Hilton Fuller weathered a storm of criticism after he halted the Nichols prosecution due to the state’s failure to continue paying legal fees for the defense, which had already cost $1.2 million, the New York Times reports. But he finally decided to recuse himself following comments to the New Yorker magazine about Nichols’ probable defense of mental illness.
“That’s their only defense, because everyone in the world knows he did it,” he says in the article.
Fuller explained his recusal this way: “In light of recent media reports, I am no longer hopeful that I can provide a trial perceived to be fair for both the state and the accused.”
Fuller told the Fulton County Daily Report that he consented to be interviewed to correct misinformation about the case. He said his agreement with writer Jeffrey Toobin was that the conversation was on background only “and there would be no direct quotations or attributions, unless they were floated by me first."
Toobin told the Daily Report that wasn’t his understanding. “I mean, it was clearly for attribution; we even had a New Yorker fact-checker call and confirm it.”