O.R. Barris III, the district attorney for Okmulgee and McIntosh Counties, has filed a lawsuit to disqualify District Judge Kenneth Adair from hearing any cases prosecuted by the DA’s office.
The judge cannot be impartial, the lawsuit states, because he made on-the-record statements in multiple criminal proceedings the call his impartiality into question. Specifically, he has stated and ruled that “two different Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers, one Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs agent, one Okmulgee police officer, the office of the district attorney and specifically the DA’s chief investigator as being involved in the presentation of false or untrue evidence to the court.”
The statements and rulings show a pattern of the judge’s conduct being open to question, the suit states. In some cases, even opposing counsel disagreed with the judge’s actions, the suit contends.
The judge, the suit states, entered evidence into the record not from the defense or the prosecution, but simply from his own opinion, then refused a motion to refute those facts with affidavits, photographs and body cam video.
The suit contends Adair has called lying “systemic” in the Okmulgee police department and says its offers are “testilying” when they get on the stand. When another judge expressed concern over his belief that he needed to “fix” law enforcement by calling them liars from the bench, the suit states, he replied that he “had to start somewhere,” implying to the State that he has an agenda to pursue, rather than impartial justice.
The suit also alleges that the judge independently went to a crime scene to investigate, then using his personal observations to make rulings. That is not allowed, according to Rule 2.9 of the Canon of Judicial Ethics, which states “a judge shall not investigate facts in a matter independently, and shall consider only the evidence presented and any facts that may be properly judicially noticed.”
The suit was filed yesterday in Okmulgee County.
You can read the suit here (PDF).