Trial Judge Removed From Case For “Unreasonable Fury” Towards Prosecution

Filed under: Criminal Law, News Tags: by Steven F. Fairlie @ August 1, 2010

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that U.S. District Chief Judge James Halderman shall be removed from presiding over the trial of a man accused of smuggling drugs into the U.S. due to his “unreasonable fury” towards prosecutors.  Judge Halderman had suppressed fingerprint evidence under the theory that the government had tampered with the evidence and repeatedly accused the government’s lawyers of lying.  He said “I don’t believe you when you say just about anything anymore because I know that you will lie to a court any time it helps you. I know that. I saw you do it. I know you will do that. You have proven that to me beyond a reasonable doubt.'”   The appellate court determined that his ruling was “patently unsound as to exceed the legitimate bounds of judicial power.”  Further, the appellate court wrote that “The transcript of the district judge’s remarks concerning the evidentiary issue reveals a degree of anger and hostility toward the government that is in excess of any provocation that we can find in the record.”  The Government had not requested the Judge’s removal from the trial, but the 7th Circuit ordered that anyhow and denied a defense request for a continuance based upon the unprecedented ruling.  It will be interesting to see if this precedent is ever needed in the future, and if so, how the appellate courts will react to it the next time.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *

Or contact me privately:

(215) 997-1000