Author Topic: Judge's recusal sidelines sex assault trial of ex-Baylor football player Oakman  (Read 164 times)

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Offline Elderberry

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WacoTrib by Tommy Witherspoon 2/25/2019

The sexual assault trial of former Baylor University football player Shawn Oakman, set to begin Monday, was postponed after the judge in the case recused himself in the face of complaints by the defense, allowing a new judge to take his place.

Judge Ralph Strother of Waco’s 19th State District Court removed himself from the case after Oakman’s attorneys filed a recusal motion Monday, alleging that Strother met improperly last week with prosecutors and unsealed records without consulting the defense. Strother had met with defense attorneys in August and agreed to seal the records in question, which include medical information from Baylor Scott & White Medical Center.

“These improper actions have operated to deny the defendant’s rights to due process and due course of law, his right to counsel, his right to effective assistance of counsel, his right to present a defense and his right of confrontation,” states the motion from defense attorneys Alan Bennett and Jessi Freud. Oakman’s attorneys also filed a motion Monday to disqualify the prosecutors in the case, Robert Moody and Gabe Price, who met with Strother on Feb. 20.

Strother’s recusal came just before jury selection was to begin in the trial at 10:30 a.m. Monday. Jurors were told late Monday morning to report back at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in hopes that the trial can proceed.

Strother sent notification of his recusal to Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield, presiding judge of the Third Administrative Judicial Region, who late Monday appointed Retired State District Judge Mike Snipes of Dallas to preside over the case. Snipes is scheduled to hold a hearing at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday to consider the motion to disqualify the prosecutors.

If Snipes denies the motion, jury selection in Oakman’s case likely will begin later in the day, court officials said.


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