McBride case: Judge refuses defense motion to recuse herself

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Good afternoon:

The Detroit Press and Guide is reporting this morning:

The judge in the case of a Dearborn Heights man accused of killing a woman on his front porch won’t step away.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Qiana Lillard denied a motion by Theodore Wafer’s attorneys to recuse herself from the case Friday morning. They claim Lillard’s ties to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office — she worked in the office before being appointed to the bench last year — create an “appearance of bias.”

Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny, the head of the court’s criminal division, will hear an appeal on April 25.

Wafer’s attorneys are not likely to get a change of venue on this ground unless she was employed by the prosecutor’s office when Wafer shot and killed McBride. That would create a conflict of interest that would require the judge to recuse herself.

Most judges are former prosecutors, so merely having worked for a prosecutor’s office is not going to be sufficient grounds to require a judge to step down.

The motion for a change of venue will likely be denied without prejudice, which means that it can be raised again during jury selection if most of the venire are familiar with the case and have formed opinions about Wafer’s guilt or innocence.

The motion to permit the defense to attack McBride’s character will likely be denied pursuant to Rule 404, although I will give defense counsel credit for phrasing it creatively to get it within the exception permitted by the rule.

My prediction: Good effort. Motion Denied.

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11 Responses to McBride case: Judge refuses defense motion to recuse herself

  1. LessonLearned says:

    Intruder is so different than someone knocking on your door Lord knows if I hauled a gun out everytime someone intoxicated or lost beat on my door there would be a lot of shot up people.Wafer was behind 2 locked doors no way I will ever believe he feared for his life yet took the barriers away , ASSESS .

  2. lyn says:

    This is going to be interesting, particularly in the last few months 2 homeowners in Detroit shot killed what they called intruders on their property.

  3. LessonLearned says:

    Thank you Professor.

  4. LessonLearned says:

    http://www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277–310315–,00.html
    Snyder appoints two to Wayne County’s 3rd Circuit Court
    Wednesday, August 7, 2013
    LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder today appointed Charles Hegarty and Qiana Lillard to the state’s 3rd Circuit Court in Wayne County.
    “Charles and Qiana are qualified professionals with years of experience, and I am confident they will serve Wayne County residents well on the bench,” Snyder said.

    Here’s when she was appointed Aug 2013 and Wafer Killed Renisha on Nove 2, 2013 therefore the Judge was not in the prosecutor’s office at the time of the shooting..

  5. LessonLearned says:

    Wafer’s attorneys are not likely to get a change of venue on this ground unless she was employed by the prosecutor’s office when Wafer shot and killed McBride. That would create a conflict of interest that would require the judge to recuse herself.

    Professor are you saying that the defense is not likely to be granted a different Judge because Judge Lillard was employed by the prosecutors office, but you said change of venue? or am I just misunderstanding….

    • Since she left the prosecutor’s office before the shooting, I do not believe the motion to recuse has any merit.

      The defense has also filed a motion for a change of venue. They claim that adverse pretrial publicity will make it impossible to select a fair and impartial jury, so they want to try the case in a different county.

      I’m predicting this motion will be denied without prejudice which means the defense can renew it after jury selection starts if the prospective jurors have already formed opinions about Wafer’s guilt or innocence.

  6. LessonLearned says:

    Thank you for your article. This is the only place I saw an opinion on the recusal of the Judge and the other motions, Do you have a link for yesterdays hearing I missed some thank you kindly LL

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