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May 4, 2007

Interesting motion for recusal at sentencing

This local story out of North Carolina spotlights an interesting federal case (with political overtones) in which the defendant is seeking the recusal of the judge as sentencing approaches.  Here are the basic details:

The federal judge scheduled to sentence Jim Black in two weeks has a potential conflict of interest because he once targeted Black and others in a politically charged lawsuit, the former House speaker contends.  In court papers filed Thursday, Black's attorney Ken Bell wrote that "the obvious appearance of impropriety cannot be overcome" and that the judge, James Dever III of U.S. District Court, should step aside.

Bell cited a lawsuit filed five years ago by the N.C. Republican Party.  The lawsuit challenged the drawing of state legislative districts and named Black, a Democrat, as a defendant.  Dever, then in private practice, was one of the GOP's lawyers.  "If Judge Dever imposes judgment on Black," Bell wrote, "it will appear to the public that Judge Dever will indeed have had the last word on the redistricting battle engaged in during his private practice."

The surprise request for Dever to remove himself from Black's public corruption case could delay Black's sentencing, scheduled for May 18.  It's the latest twist in the wide-ranging, two-year investigation by state and federal authorities into Black's campaign finances. It could also revive a bitterly partisan dispute over the drawing of legislative districts.

Dever is expected to rule on the request, and his decision could be appealed. Such requests are rare in federal court, so its outcome is difficult to predict.

May 4, 2007 at 07:28 AM | Permalink

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Tracked on May 4, 2007 8:02:07 AM

Comments

Why didn't they file a motion to recuse LONG before sentencing? This is not newly-discovered information.

Posted by: Bruce | May 4, 2007 10:41:59 AM

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