Judge removed in Jamie Hood case - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Judge removed in Jamie Hood case

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ATHENS, Ga. -

The original judge appointed to hear the Jamie Hood case has been removed. Judge David Sweat made the decision on Friday to remove Judge Lawton Stephens following testimony from an officer who was allegedly shot by Hood, his wife and father.

Jamie Hood is charged in the 2010 shooting and killing of Athens-Clarke County police officer Elmer Buddy Christian and wounding Officer Tony Howard.

Defendant outbursts, legal wrangling and other delays have played their role in delaying the legal proceedings.

With a new defense lawyer in place, Judge David Sweat was on the bench for Friday's hearing. The judge heard arguments on the question whether another judge should continue to preside over the case. The defense has asked for the removal of Judge Stephens because the judge knows Howard.

Officer Howard testified he met Judge Stephens years ago when the judge was a customer at a car repair shop owned by the officer's father.

"Would you agree that your father and Judge Stephens have known each other for a long time," asked Hood's lawyer.

"Yes," replied Howard.

"At least in excess of 40 years?" asked the defense attorney.

"Give or take," answered Howard.

"And, did you ever observe your father and Judge Stevens talking?" asked Hood's lawyer.

"Talking to a customer, yes, talking business," said Howard.

The officer's wife and father were also called to the stand, and testified that the judge made a brief visit to the hospital after the shooting.

Judge Sweat made his decision based on the testimony. Sweat called his colleague a judge of high character but said he should be excused largely because of concerns about public perception. Another judge will be appointed to the case.

Hood also has a new public defender representing him in court.

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