DA’s effort to recuse judge in murder case rejected
By BRIAN ROGERS | Houston Chronicle
A Houston judge who declared the procedures surrounding the death
penalty unconstitutional in March, then rescinded his ruling to hear
more information, will stay on the case, a special judge has ruled.
State District Judge L.J. Gist denied the district attorney’s motion
to recuse Kevin Fine, who presides over the 177th state District
“It is the finding of this court that the totality of evidence does
not support the state’s motion to recuse Judge Fine nor that his
impartiality might be reasonably questioned,” Gist wrote.
Gist said he filed the denial Tuesday, but clerks said they had not
received it until Wednesday.
On April 1, Harris County’s District Attorney Pat Lykos asked that
Fine be recused after he ruled that the Texas capital murder statute
violates due process provisions of the U.S. Constitution.
“A reasonable person, knowing all the circumstances involved, would
harbor doubts as to the impartiality of Judge Fine,” according to
court documents filed by prosecutors.
If Fine rules the same way after hearing arguments on the issue and
his ruling survives appellate review, it will take the death penalty
off the table for John Edward Green. The 25-year-old Green is accused
in the robbery and fatal shooting of Huong Thien Nguyen, 34, on June
Fine’s original ruling drew swift rebukes from Lykos, Texas Attorney
General Greg Abbott and Gov. Rick Perry.