| After considering the long and tortured history in this
case, as well as the clear animosity between the judge and
the prosecutor, we believe that it would be difficult, if not
impossible, for Judge Thompson to divorce himself from
the previous proceedings in this case. Also, in Judge
Thompson's order dismissing the capital-murder
indictment he made factual findings concerning the
credibility of some of the State's evidence, the strength of
the State's case against Moore, and the credibility of a
statement that Moore made to police. It further appears
that the public perception of this case is that it is not the
State against the defendant, as it should be, but the
prosecutor against the judge.
| After considering the totality of the circumstances
presented in this case, we hold that the State has met its
burden of showing that there is an "appearance of
impropriety" in Judge Thompson's remiaining on the case.
The Robin factors weigh heavily in favor of recusal. "To
recuse where there is an appearance of impropriety, is a
duty owed to the public in order to promote public
confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary."
Accordingly, we grant this petition for a writ of
mandamus and direct Judge Thompson to recuse himself
from presiding over the retrial of Moore's capital-murder
| For the appeals court, the key points were:
Thompson's obvious animosity toward Mr. Valeksa. In plain English, it means it's
okay for the judge to be furious with a lawyer, but tantrums are frowned upon, and
retribution is absolutely forbidden. You don't drop capital murder charges because
you hate Don Valeska.
Thompson's comments about the state's case, including the DNA. All it takes is a
glance at the trial transcript to see he missed the most important piece of evidence in
the case. The only other possible explanation for such a mistake is incompetence.
And Thompson never had to make such "factual findings" at all; they were not the
issue for the appeals court.
Public perception of the case as Thompson v Valeska rather than State v Moore,
courtesy of the Decatur Daily.
It is an incredibly rare thing that has happened. The appeals court has NEVER
found a judge to be biased. And they have never previously recused a judge
because of the appearance of bias. This is one of those rare cases, where it's the
judge that loses the case. I can't help but point out the appeals court quote of
Justice Kennedy: "In matters of ethics, appearance and reality often converge as
After reading the appeals court ruling more carefully, I realize what an impressive
document it is. A lot of work went into it. The appeals court even brought up
possible arguments against recusal that the defense lawyers failed to provide, in
order to avoid another unnecessary appeal. They would not comment on the
evidence, simply because they would not make the same mistake Thompson made.
There is an uncommon level of class in the document. It shows it is a decision the
appeals court did not take lightly.
I might also note the prosecution's final brief, instead of arguing about cell phones,
emphasized that all that was necessary for recusal was the appearance of bias--the
actual legal issue at hand. It seems Judge Thompson's response to the appeals court
hurt his own case, and the defense lawyers did not help.
|From the Recusal Order