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'It's not common for judges to disqualify themselves;: IU Professor of Law breaks down the process

Posted at 6:39 PM, Nov 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-04 18:39:25-04

DELPHI — The reason why the Carroll County Judge disqualified himself from this case isn't known to the public at this time.

IU Professor of Law, Charles Geyh, says that information must be given to the newly appointed special judge, but may never be released to the public.

"It is not common for judges to disqualify themselves," Charles Geyh said.

Judge Fran Gull from Allen County is taking over the Delphi double murder investigation of Abby Williams and Libby German.

The girls were found dead on Valentines Day 2017.

50-year-old Richard Allen is charged with two counts of murder in the case.

The Carroll County Judge found enough probable cause against Allen.

Something, IU Professor of Law Charles Geyh says the new judge will look at and review.

"It's a potential problem the new judge would have to decide whether previous orders would need to be revisited or not," Geyh said.

Geyh says a judge can disqualify themselves from a case at any point they feel they can't abide by the code of judicial conduct.

Reasons can range from formerly working with a law firm that is involved in the case, having a financial connection, being biased or more.

"It is up to the judge it's not quite as easy as if they are uncomfortable because the judge is caught between two competing rules," said Geyh. "One is you have to disqualify yourself where disqualification is warranted, but the other is you have a duty to preside when disqualification isn't warranted. For example, if a judge is looking at a situation and saying boy this is a politically hot case I am going to catch a lot of flack for this, I don't want to sit in this case. I am going to step aside, that's not appropriate," said Geyh.

While the reason for stepping down isn't known, Geyh says there are tools in place to protect the case.

"For me, the message to the public is, this disqualification mechanism is a way to make sure judges are in a position to step down when they can't be fair and we should feel on the hold feel good about that," Geyh said.

The hearing to see if the records should be unsealed is set for November 22.

Allen's trial is currently scheduled for March 20, 2023.