Legal Ethics

Murder Case Defense Seeks Disqualification of Ga. Judge Who Attended Funeral of Slain Cop


Attorneys defending a man accused in a death-penalty case of murdering a police officer are seeking the recusal of the Georgia judge overseeing the case, arguing that he can’t be impartial because he knew the victim and attended his funeral.

But rather than step down voluntarily, Western Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Lawton Stephens has responded to a motion filed Friday by lawyers for Jamie Hood by asking another judge to determine whether he is ethically required to do so in the Clarke County case, reports the Florida Times-Union.

The article reports that the judge disclosed the potential issue to the defense early on, in open court, but no objections were raised by Hood’s counsel. The defendant himself, however, raised the question recently, saying that he feels Stephens is too close to the victim to be impartial. At that point, defense counsel noted that state law allows such recusal motions to be made as late as 10 days before trial.

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