Sunday, October 27, 2002

Judge told to take no more action in 3 cases

The Associated Press

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - At the request of prosecutors, the deputy chief justice for the Kentucky Supreme Court has prevented a judge from taking further action in the case of three teens who are charged with the January murder of 18-year-old Ryan Harris.

Deputy Chief Justice Martin Johnstone issued an order Friday granting prosecutors their motion for a stay on any further proceedings until the full Supreme Court has entered an opinion on whether Jessamine Circuit Judge Hunter Daugherty should be disqualified and a special judge appointed.

Earlier this month, Judge Daugherty fired Susan Zeroogian. She was his secretary of five years and is the wife of Adam Zeroogian, who is defending Daniel Gordin, one of three teens accused of robbing Mr. Harris of $6 and later fatally shooting him.

An Oct. 14 opinion issued by the Ethics Committee of the Kentucky Judiciary said the fact that Mr. Zeroogian's wife worked for the judge created an "appearance of impropriety" and said the judge should disqualify himself.

But Tuesday, Assistant Attorneys General David Smith and Brian Judy, who are assisting Jessamine Commonwealth Attorney Tom Lockridge, filed a petition with the Supreme Court arguing that the decision did not say Judge Daugherty "could `cure' his own disqualification by firing his secretary."

Before Justice Johnstone's order came down Friday, Judge Daugherty had decided on a number of pretrial motions in the case of 17-year-old Daniel Gordin, whose trial for murder, robbery and wanton endangerment is scheduled to start Dec. 2.

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