Cook v. StateAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court remanded this matter to the trial court for a new post-conviction hearing before different judge, holding that the post-conviction judge should have recused himself even though Petitioner failed to file a motion for recusal because his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
After a second trial, Petitioner was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder. Petitioner timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief. The petition as assigned to Judge Lee V. Coffee, the same judge who presided over Petitioner's second trial. The post-conviction judge denied relief. Petitioner appealed, arguing that the post-conviction judge should have recused himself. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed, concluding that Petitioner's challenge to the judge's impartiality was waived because Petitioner failed to file a motion seeking the post-conviction judge's recusal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the post-conviction judge should have disqualified himself under Rule of Judicial Conduct 2.11, and therefore, Petitioner was entitled to a new hearing before a different judge on his petition for post-conviction relief.
Authoring Judge: Justice Cornelia A. Clark
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee
The dispositive question in this appeal is whether the post-conviction judge should have recused himself because his impartiality might reasonably be questioned. We answer this question in the affirmative and hold that the post-conviction judge was obligated to recuse himself in this case even though the petitioner failed to file a motion for recusal. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is reversed; the judgment of the post-conviction court is vacated; and this matter is remanded to the trial court for a new post-conviction hearing before a different judge.