Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Judge to continue hearing cases

The Bexar County District Attorney was denied her request to essentially remove District Judge Raymond Angelini from his bench when her Motion to recuse him from presiding over ANY felony criminal matters in his Court was denied by the Fourth Judicial Regional Administrative Judge David Peeples.

Judge Peeples ruled that Judge Angelini should be recused from hearing any alcohol related cases in his court during the pendency of his own misdemeanor DWI case. He is also recused from hearing any cases which involve either of the two arresting San Antonio Police Department officers.

Since the 187th District Court only hears felony criminal cases had the motion to recuse been granted as requested Judge Angelini would have been left with essentially nothing to do except to possibly hear civil matters. It is my understanding that a special prosecutor has been named to prosecute Judge Angelini as Judge Reed recused her office. An unamed source told me that the special prosecutor is to be Tony E. Hackebeil who is currently the District Attorney for the 38th Judicial District whose offices are located in Uvalde, Texas.

I am surprised Susan Reed took these steps to try to have Judge Angelini recused in toto surely she knew her request was overly broad and draconian to say the least.

Judge accused of DWI still will rule on cases
Guillermo Contreras, Elizabeth Allen: Express-News

An administrative judge on Monday allowed 187th District Judge Raymond Angelini to remain on the bench but barred him from hearing any drunken-driving cases until his own driving-while-intoxicated charge is resolved.
Angelini also cannot hear any case in which the officers who arrested him are involved, Administrative Judge David Peeples ruled. Peeples rejected a request from Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed asking that Angelini be recused from hearing all criminal cases.
Ed Schweninger, chief of the district attorney's civil section, told Peeples that Reed's office believed that Angelini could be fair despite his arrest last week. However, Schweninger, citing newspaper reports, argued that permitting Angelini to hear criminal matters might leave the public with an impression that he could not be impartial.
Angelini's lawyer, Christine Del Prado, argued that Reed's request Friday was a "shotgun approach," too broad and "Draconian" because it would effectively take Angelini off the bench without first affording him the same presumption of innocence extended to any other defendant.
Del Prado asked Peeples to rule that the state make a motion for recusing Angelini in each case prosecutors felt would have the potential for a conflict of interest. Reed's request, Del Prado argued, is not available under state rules of civil procedure.
After Monday's hearing, Del Prado said Angelini has no problem following Peeples' order.
"I think anything that makes it clear to the public that Judge Angelini wants to do what is appropriate in this case and not give any appearance of impropriety is the right decision," Del Prado told reporters after the ruling.
As a district court judge, Angelini has presided over felony criminal cases since 1994. His background is also in criminal law, having been a prosecutor and defense lawyer for more than 31 years, Del Prado told Peeples.
"He's well respected and has been re-elected several times," she said.
Angelini was arrested late Thursday after San Antonio Police Officer J. Martin pulled him over for weaving in the 13000 block of Jones Maltsberger Road. In his police report, Martin said Angelini's speech was slurred, that he had bloodshot eyes, that he had to use his car door to remain standing and that he failed a field sobriety test.
The report also said Angelini admitted having "maybe three drinks" but refused to take a breath test.
Angelini, the report said, also repeatedly told Martin and Officer W. Kasberg, "I live just right over there, can you follow me home guys?"
After his arrest, Angelini oversaw cases Friday, including a plea in a DWI case, before Reed filed her motion later that day. Angelini was not on the bench Monday, Del Prado said.
Reed's office is not prosecuting Angelini. County Court-at-Law No. 12 Judge Michael E. Mery, who is presiding over Angelini's misdemeanor DWI case, appointed Anton "Tony" E. Hackebeil, district attorney in Uvalde County, as special prosecutor.
Carl Reynolds, executive director of the Texas Judicial Council, said recusal is "a case-specific event." He noted that presumption of innocence is an argument for not making such a sweeping move.
"My gut is that it would be unusual for a judge to be recused from everything," Reynolds said.