Saturday, March 24, 2007

[JFP] Seale Judge Sees Flurry of Motions

by Matt Saldaña
Photo by Matt Saldaña
March 22, 2007

U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate denied a motion to recuse himself and U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda Anderson today in the federal kidnapping trial of James Ford Seale. Seale's defense attorneys had complained about Wingate's prior employment, 22 years ago, with the federal prosecutor's office and seemed to hint that, as African Americans, Wingate and Anderson might be biased against Seale. The judge also delayed a motion to move the trial out of Jackson due to coverage by the Jackson Free Press and The Clarion-Ledger, and indicated that the trial might be delayed a week or more from the scheduled April 2 start date.

In the motion to recuse, federal public defender Dennis Joiner noted that Anderson had also worked as a federal prosecutor. Trial attorney Eric Gibson, arguing for the prosecution, said that if judges had to recuse themselves based on former government employment, the entire justice system would collapse.

Joiner implied that Wingate would be the prosecution’s judge of choice. “Let's just say that, if I were a prosecutor in this case, I would pick Your Honor even though you've served for 20 years without bias,” Joiner told Wingate.

The public defender then said, in vague terms, that certain issues might affect Wingate in a certain way, and that these unique responses are the reason why we should have diversity at law schools.

“Maybe you're dancing around some issues,” Wingate replied. “Does the 'diversity' argument you made mean that you don't want two judges of minority status?”

[Read the entire article at the Jackson Free Press.]