Judge accused of bias towards defendants in child sex abuse cases removed from pending case

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The presiding Harris County Regional Judge ruled Wednesday that 185th District Court Judge Jason Luong should be recused from a possible retrial of a defendant who was found guilty of child sexual abuse by his court.

Judge Susan Brown sat in Luong’s chair during the hearing, which was sparked when Luong refused a request from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office to recuse herself from presiding over a new trial requested by the accused Philip Recio.

SEE ALSO: Harris County Attorney Seeks Judge’s Recusal; claims judge biased against defendants in child sex abuse cases

Recio was found guilty of continuous child sexual abuse and sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison on March 2 by the Luong court.

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In the state’s motion for recusal, two child abuse prosecutors claimed after sentencing, Judge Luong called them into his office for ‘post-trial feedback’ and then made several sympathetic comments on men accused of child sexual abuse.

Tyler White and Elizabeth Liberman testified about their sworn affidavits in which they wrote, “The judge felt that just because a child or the ADA says a person is a pedophile, that doesn’t make him not so, since “You will never know what is really going on”. come.'”

In another case, the district attorney’s office claimed that “Judge Luong equated child sexual abuse cases with the Salem witch trials, because ‘just a simple statement of protest from a child is enough to lock up a man for the rest of his life'”.

In a response opposing the state’s recusal motion, Recio’s defense attorney, Lynn Hardaway, wrote, “Judge Luong’s personal views on pedophilia cases, how they are tried , the severity of the sentence and the possibility of wrongful convictions are not sufficient grounds. challenge in the context for which they were made.

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During the hearing, Hardaway also called the timing of the state’s motion “curious,” noting that Judge Luong is running for reelection and facing current Harris County District Attorney Andrea Beall. , in a run-off in the Democratic primary in May.

Meagan Scott, general counsel for the Harris County prosecutor’s office, told KPRC 2 News there was no political motivation.

“There are a lot of people running for a lot of offices. We make our decisions based on the facts of each case as they present themselves in that particular case,” Scott said.

Judge Luong was not in the courtroom during the hearing and did not directly respond to requests for comment.

On Wednesday afternoon, KPRC 2 News received a statement from Josue Ochoa, court coordinator for the 185th District Court, who said, “The only statement the Court can make is to state that the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits Judge Luong or any judge from making public comments on cases pending before the court.

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Judge Brown said she would reassign the case to another court in the coming days.

Copyright 2022 by KPRC Click2Houston – All Rights Reserved.

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