Booker case won’t be heard by Monroe County judge

It will not be a Monroe County judge who tries the case of Vauhxx Booker, a former Bloomington resident who two and a half weeks ago was charged by special prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp with battery and criminal trespass.

Walking down the steps of the Charlotte Zietlow Justice Center after Tuesday’s hearing are Vauhxx Booker, right, and his attorney Katherine Liell, left.

On Tuesday afternoon at a scheduled hearing, Monroe County circuit court judge Valeri Haughton announced that she would be recusing herself from the case.

Leerkamp was appointed to handle the charges of Booker’s two alleged assailants, which include battery and criminal confinement. She charged Booker, after a restorative justice process did not come to a successful resolution.

One of Leerkamp’s court filings pegged the timeframe for the collapse of the restorative justice process as exactly a year after the incident: “on or about July 4, 2021.”

The charges against all three men arose in connection with an incident that took place a year ago on July 4, near Lake Monroe. Booker described it as an “attempted lynching.”

A back-and-forth between Haughton and Booker’s attorney, Katherine Liell, drew out the fact that all the other Monroe County judges had also recused themselves.

That means it will be the Indiana Supreme Court that decides which judge will hear Booker’s case. Tuesday’s hearing could have been the occasion of the initial hearing, when Booker would have offered a plea.

That will now wait until it is determined who the judge will be.

Continue reading “Booker case won’t be heard by Monroe County judge”

Partisan case for partisan judges: Who rules on lawsuit over Bloomington plan commission seat?

cropped ecusal Screen Shot 2020-06-21 at 11.39.01 AM
Art based on one of the recusals made by assigned judges in Guenther & Ellis v. Cockerham & Hamilton.

On June 9, a lawsuit was filed in Monroe County’s circuit court disputing the mayoral appointment of the plan commission seat where Chris Cockerham had sat the day before.

In the lawsuit, Andrew Guenther asserts that he has been duly appointed by GOP Monroe County chair William Ellis, and should serve on the commission instead of Cockerham.

It’s not yet decided which judge will hear the case. Owen County circuit judge Kelsey Hanlon, who’s facilitator of District 20, has been asked to appoint a special judge. One of 26 judicial districts the state, District 20 is made up of Monroe, Owen, Lawrence, and Greene counties.

What makes picking a judge a challenge for this case? Partisanship. Continue reading “Partisan case for partisan judges: Who rules on lawsuit over Bloomington plan commission seat?”