A Democratic judge recused himself Tuesday from presiding over the case of a Republican party official charged with disturbing the peace.
Pike County Central District Justice Court Judge Melvin Hollins “reluctantly” agreed to recuse himself at the request of county Republican Party chairman Bobby McDaniel, who faces a misdemeanor charge.
McDaniel is accused of disturbing the peace during the Aug. 6 Democratic primary when he challenged the right of Renada Taylor Cain to vote at the Progress Fire Station voting precinct, saying he had evidence she doesn’t live in the county.
McDaniel’s attorney, Stewart Robison, made the request for recusal at McDaniel’s arraignment Tuesday.
After silently reading the motion for recusal, Judge Hollins said, “You fear that I might not be totally fair toward a Republican.”
Hollins said when he promised justice for everyone, “I meant just that.”
“I am not the person who will rule against you because you are a Republican and I’m a Democrat,” Hollins said.
While he said he was willing to grant the motion for recusal, Hollins assured Robison and McDaniel, “You’ll get a fair shake with me any place, any time.”
Hollins went on to say, “I reluctantly recuse myself of sitting over this case. We will make every effort to find another judge that will be impartial.”
McDaniel had also requested a jury trial, but Hollins said he couldn’t rule on that after recusing himself.
Robison told Hollins the motion for recusal “to be sure doesn’t go directly to your ability or inability to be impartial. Mr. McDaniel doesn’t view you in that light, and I don’t view you in that light.”
Robison cited a judicial rule that says a judge should grant recusal in cases “in which their impartiality might be questioned by a reasonable person knowing all the circumstances.”
“We believe that a reasonable person might question your impartiality under the circumstances,” Robison said.
As Robison and McDaniel prepared to leave the courtroom, Hollins told them, “Have a blessed day.”
Hollins served on the Democratic Executive Committee for years but is no longer on it.
Ironically, in 2007 he was a candidate in a race in which a candidate was disqualified for not living in the district. In that race, Central District justice court judge candidate Andrea Hughes Green was disqualified after officials learned she lived in the county’s northern district.