Edmondson will await Macy's decision on an appeal before assigning case

Tuesday, October 17th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- State Attorney General Drew Edmondson will wait to see if Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy appeals his disqualification from prosecuting bombing conspirator Terry Nichols before assigning the case to another prosecutor.

"There was a blatant violation of the rules of professional conduct by a man I have known for over 40 years," state District Judge Ray Dean Linder said Monday after a daylong hearing where witnesses testified that Macy's remarks in the media could prevent Nichols from getting a fair trial.

"One hundred percent compliance with the rules is not only necessary, it's demanded," Linder said.

Macy did not attend the hearing. Nichols' attorneys had subpoenaed Macy to testify but Linder granted a prosecution motion to quash it.

"We will review the ruling and decide what to do," Macy said Monday evening. He declined further comment.

The next stop for the case is Edmondson's office, which would appoint another prosecutor. But Edmondson said that process would not start right away.

"I understand that District Attorney Macy is reviewing the transcripts to determine grounds for an emergency appeal of the order," Edmondson said in a statement. "It would be inappropriate for my office to begin the process of appointment until questions about such an appeal are answered."

Macy has filed 160 first-degree murder charges against Nichols, 45, in connection with the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P.

Murrah Federal Building, which killed 168.

A federal jury already has convicted Nichols of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy and a federal judge sentenced him to life in prison.

Defense attorney Barbara Bergman had alleged that Macy had an "intense, personal, emotional involvement" in the bombing case.

Lawyers also pointed to statements Macy had made in the media, including an April interview with CBS "You should have been down there the first four or five days.

There would be no question in your mind. . . . I've sent several people to death row for killing one person. I certainly feel that death would be the appropriate punishment for killing 19 babies,"

he said in the interview.

"That is a statement that pretty much destroys the presumption of innocence in this case," said Oklahoma City University Law School Dean Lawrence Hellman, who was among those testifying in Monday's hearing.

Assistant District Attorney Sandra Elliott argued that Macy's comments were merely an attempt to justify his prosecution of Nichols, which has been criticized in the media because of its cost, expected to reach into the millions of dollars.

"An attorney has a right to give a reasonable response to criticism in the press," Elliott said. "Mr. Macy does not believe that he has feelings that are strong enough to disqualify him from the case."

Linder ruled that Macy had not only violated the rules of professional conduct, but also violated a gag order barring anyone directly involved with the case from discussing it.