The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Ordered a New Trial Because of a Relationship Between a Prosecutor and Former Judge.
By Andy Weber
A man who is serving 23 years behind bars for drug trafficking will get a new trial.
The opinion from the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is more fallout from a sex scandal involving an Oklahoma City judge that came to light last year.
The reversal could be part of a larger trend.
In March 2021, Oklahoma County District Judge Timothy Henderson resigned after three female attorneys accused him of sexual misconduct. A local attorney who spoke to KOCO 5 said there could be a string of new trials because of the opinion.
“I think without confidence that the judge and whoever else is involved in the case are impartial, the confidence in our judicial system completely collapses,” Overman Legal Group attorney Benjamin Munda said.
In the opinion, the court said Aaron Lamar Fort deserves a new trial. Justices cited judicial bias caused by a sexual relationship between the prosecutor in the case and the judge – Henderson.
Fort’s public defender welcomed the opinion.
“Justice has been served today. Mr. Fort’s constitutional right to a fair trial has been protected,” Assistant Public Defender Hallie Bovos said.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said: “Mr. Fort deserves a fair trial; and with the decision by the Court today, he will receive one. When the Court’s Mandate is filed, the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office will be prepared to re-try Mr. Fort.”
Munda said he has cases he has worked he thinks need second looks or possibly even new trials.
“I was disgusted along with everybody else, I think, not only because it undermines confidence in the entire judicial system, but I think it impacted dozens of my clients,” he said.
He said there could be hundreds of cases with similar circumstances that he argues deserve a new look.
Article originally published on July 21, 2022 on koco.com