DA request for judge to step aside unusual
Elizabeth Allen: Express-News
When Judge Raymond Angelini was asked to halt all criminal court duties in the wake of his misdemeanor drunken driving charge last week, the request was so unusual the district attorney's office had trouble finding case law to support it.
Reed — under the spotlight herself recently for being one of several Bexar County Courthouse employees who flew on airline tickets later revealed to have been stolen — agreed that public perception is important. (Reed has maintained she and others did not know the Southwest Airlines tickets were stolen and did not break any state law.)
"I was very concerned about the appearance," she said, referring to Angelini's courtroom duties. "How is a juror going to feel sitting there on a case? How is a defendant going to feel sitting in court? How is a victim going to feel on that case?"
"We didn't cause Judge Angelini to be arrested, so that whole premise is ridiculous," Herberg said. "We filed the same motions in his case that we did in the Albert McKnight case."
Former Justice of the Peace McKnight was arrested and charged with indecent exposure in 2003. He was acquitted.
"Judge McKnight is a Democrat, Judge Angelini is a Republican. Had we not filed a motion to recuse on this case, we'd be accused of playing political favorites. So you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't," Herberg said.
But after giving it more thought, Reed decided to ask Angelini to completely step aside until his case is resolved.
"When you're trying to say that this really will not affect things, it just looks like it will — that's just politics," Allison said. "So they've made their public case now, and that's probably where it ends up."
The hearing wasn't necessary to achieve that, said Melissa Barlow Fischer, criminal district court administrator. The ruling was the same as an offer Angelini had made to Reed, through her, Monday morning.
"I understood that ... if somebody wanted him off (an individual) case, then he would be taken off the case," she said. "I didn't want to be picking and choosing those things.
"The most practical approach is to just bring it into a courtroom," she said.
Others found her move unusual.