Thursday, April 1, 2010

Judge Fine Is Asked To Recuse Himself

Patricia Lykos, District Attorney of Harris County (Houston and environs), has submitted a motion to Judge Fine that he recuse himself from the death penalty case of John Edward Green. Judge Fine is in the cross-hairs because he is planning to hold a hearing on the constitutionality of  the procedure by which the death penalty is implemented in Texas. I wrote of Judge Fine recently in Now For Another Cosmic Moment.

DA Lykos argues from several directions that Judge Fine is not impartial. I quote below from one argument where I believe she digs herself into a hole.

In the present case, Judge Fine has preordained the defendant's innocence by stating "I am not prepared to say that our society, that our citizenry is willing to let innocent people die so that the State of Texas can have a death penalty."  ... Such an argument would be irrelevant in the present case unless Judge Fine had already concluded the defendant was innocent. ... But the issue of the defendant's innocence must be resolved at the guilt stage of trial, not by the trial judge at a pretrial hearing. Judge Fine has demonstrated his favoritism toward the defendant in this case by implicitly making that determination prior to trial. And reasonable people, knowing all the circumstances, would harbor doubts on Judge Fine's impartiality. 

Now I'm not an attorney, and I assume most of you reading this are not attorneys. Nonetheless, I hope you can see the the problem here. In our system of justice, a defendant is (at least in theory) presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. While the words "innocent until proven guilty" are not found in the Constitution, they are embodied by protections such as the right to remain silent (thereby forcing the State to prove its case) and the right to a trial by jury (thereby forcing the State to prove its case to the citizenry.)

I believe Lykos has it upside down. She in fact suggests that only an unreasonable person "knowing all the circumstances, would harbor doubts on Judge Fine's impartiality."

I ask that DA Lykos step aside because of her obvious effort to taint the jury pool.

2 Apr 2010