Criminal Procedure

Ky. Judge Bans Prosecutor Objections in Probable Cause Hearings

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A Kentucky judge has threatened to hold prosecutors in contempt if they don’t stop making “obnoxious, ridiculous, abundant and useless objections” during probable cause hearings.

Jefferson District Judge Sean Delahanty told prosecutors on Tuesday to cool it, saying that their excessive objections were wasting time and disrupting probable cause hearings, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal in articles yesterday and today.

Under an unwritten policy in his courtroom, Delahanty says, prosecutors have a “standing objection to each and every question” witnesses are asked by defense attorneys during probable cause hearings, in order to avoid unnecessary interruptions and duplicative objections. He apparently doesn’t apply the same rule to defense attorneys, believing that they don’t make excessive objections, according to the newspaper.

Among the prosecutors to whom the judge reportedly reiterated his no-objections rule was County Attorney Irv Maze, who hastened to Delahanty’s courtroom yesterday after hearing that the judge had threatened to hold prosecutor J.P. Ward in contempt.

“I’m just shocked,” Maze said of the judge’s no-objections policy after the hearing, noting that courtroom objections are standard criminal procedure. “I don’t know what’s going on in his mind. We all go by the same rules. … This is a serious effort to change the rules as I know them.”

However, Maze has told Ward and other prosecutors to comply with the judge’s no-objections order while he appeals it in state circuit court. “I did not want him to go to jail,” he said of Ward.

Delahanty has agreed to put the order in writing, to facilitate the appeal.

“I believe I have the discretion to do this,” he says, noting that his policy covers objections commonly raised by prosecutors including irrelevant questions and those that have already been asked and answered.

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