Public defender files recusals against local judge - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Public defender files recusals against local judge, hearing Friday

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- The tension has been building since May of last year, when Judge Steelman relieved the public defender's office from the death penalty case involving the murder of a Chattanooga police officer.

Now, one public defender wants Steelman off dozens of cases.

Public Defender Ardena Garth has filed at least 50 recusals over the past week.

She's claiming the judge is showing clear bias toward her office and she wants him off her cases.

This all stems back to last may with the Jesse Mathews case.

One recusal filing states Judge Steelman never held an open hearing or notified the public defender's office of its removal from the Mathews case.

Judge Steelman held a hearing to address the 50 recusals filed by Garth, which say the court is prejudice against the public defender and her assistant public defender, Mary Ann Green.

Garth says on top of not giving notice of their dismissal from the Mathews case until last week, in a separate case, Judge Steelman brought up that the public defender's office was unprepared for their client.
Monday, Hank Hill, with The Chattanooga Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, asked to file a motion to intervene to see if a compromise could be reached with the court on the matter.

Steelman agreed to a hearing Friday.

In the meantime, several cases are tied up until the recusal request is resolved.

Both Green and Garth declined to comment.


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