Nichols' attorney seeks reinstatement of judge dismissed from pretrial proceedings

Tuesday, August 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The attorney representing bombing defendant Terry Nichols has asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to overturn an order dismissing the judge overseeing pretrial motions from the case.

Brian Hermanson filed a motion on Monday requesting that the state's high court assume original jurisdiction and throw out an Aug. 8 order by District Judge Charles Goodwin that dismissed Payne County Associate District Judge Robert Murphy Jr. from the case.

Oklahoma County prosecutors had accused Murphy of bias and prejudice against them in requesting that he be removed as presiding judge over Nichols' preliminary hearing. They also argued that the Chubbuck law firm, which offered free legal clerking services to Murphy, was hostile toward them. Murphy and Jane Chubbuck are former classmates, and prosecutors said she and her husband have criticized Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy.

In his decision, Goodwin, a judge from Clinton, removed Murphy on grounds he violated ethics codes when he had private talks with the firm.

After Goodwin's decision, Supreme Court Justice Hardy Summers appointed District Judge Dean Linder of Alva to oversee the preliminary hearing.

Prosecutors had mounted an unfounded campaign to disqualify Murphy and were rewarded by Goodwin's decision, Hermanson alleged in his motion. Goodwin should have dismissed the motion because the state had not met the burden of proof to show Murphy acted inappropriately, Hermanson argued.

The defense attorney requested that Murphy be reinstated.

Oklahoma County prosecutors have filed 160 counts of first-degree murder against Nichols for the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

The blast resulted in 168 deaths, more than 500 injuries and major property damage and destruction in the downtown area.

Macy is seeking the death penalty for Nichols, who was sentenced to life imprisonment after his federal conviction on eight first-degree manslaughter counts and conspiracy charges. The manslaughter counts pertained to eight federal agents killed in the explosion.

A federal jury convicted Nichols' co-defendant, Timothy McVeigh, on eight counts of first-degree murder, as well as on conspiracy and weapons counts. A federal judge concurred with the panel's recommendation of death, and McVeigh awaits execution in a federal prison in Indiana.