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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ind. Courts - "7th Circuit Removes Chief District Judge Mid-Trial After Evidence Dispute with US Attorney"

Martha Neil of ABA Journal blog writes today on this Chicago Tribune story. Read the Tribune story by Ameet Sachdev and Ray Gibson, which includes a photo with this heading: "U.S. District Judge James Holderman, who was removed from a drug trial by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals." Some quotes:

Fitzgerald did not ask the appellate court to remove the judge from the case, only to find that Holderman erred in excluding the evidence.

A three-judge appellate panel ruled in Fitzgerald's favor and allowed the evidence and testimony related to the fingerprints.

However, the additional sanction of Holderman by U.S. Circuit Judges Richard Posner, Diane Sykes and Ilana Rovner stunned court watchers. The appellate court overturns rulings of Chicago federal judges all the time, but few could remember the last time a judge was removed in the middle of a trial. * * *

Holderman, 64, is the chief judge of the federal court in Chicago. He was appointed to the bench in 1985 after working in private practice and as a federal prosecutor. While he is praised by lawyers for his legal ability and decisiveness, he has been criticized for poor temperament.

Fitzgerald has had issues with Holderman's temperament. In 2005, the judge ordered a misconduct investigation of the U.S. attorney's office by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility. In response, Fitzgerald countered that Holderman had been openly hostile to prosecutors.

At that time, the federal appeals court ordered a halt to the judge's inquiry and noted respectful relations between the bench and prosecutor were vital.

The pending drug case against Clacy Watson Herrera shows that tensions remain. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office declined to comment. Herrera's attorney also declined to comment.

[More] Here is the Order, via Main Justice.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 29, 2010 01:22 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions