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Judge recused from ex-Fort Worth officer's trial in death of Atatiana Jefferson

Earlier this month, Aaron Dean's attorneys had filed a motion asking Judge David Hagerman to recuse himself from the trial, accusing him of bias.

FORT WORTH, Texas — The judge on the trial of Aaron Dean, the former Fort Worth police officer charged in the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson, has been recused from the case, signaling another in a series of ongoing delays in the proceedings, according to an order released Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Dean's attorneys had filed a motion asking Judge David Hagerman to recuse himself from the trial, accusing him of bias.

When Hagerman refused, the motion went to a hearing before an administrative judge, Lee Gabriel.

In an order filed Tuesday, Gabriel granted Dean's attorneys' motion, recusing Hagerman from the case.

Gabriel did not elaborate on her decision, noting simply that she "considered the motion, the evidence, and the arguments presented" and made her decision.

It was not immediately clear what the next steps in the case would be, what judge would be appointed to the case or when the trial would next be slated to begin.

Dean is charged with murder in Jefferson's death, which happened in October 2019. He fatally shot her while responding to a welfare check at her home, police said.

Dean's case has been delayed several times, due to scheduling and other conflicts.

The trial was most recently rescheduled to begin this month but was delayed after Dean's attorneys filed the motion to have Hagerman recused.

Dean's attorneys, Miles Brissette and Bob Gill, accused Hagerman of having an attitude toward the defense that showed he would not be fair or impartial during proceedings against Dean.

Hagerman declined to recuse himself, referring the request to the Eighth Administrative Judicial Region, where Gabriel presided over the case in a hearing last week.

Brissette and Gill had first filed a motion three weeks ago, asking Judge Hagerman for a delay in trial – citing several scheduling conflicts that also involved a bench trail set to begin the same day as the Dean trial.

But, on June 3, Hagerman said the defense attorneys failed to prove a conflict with Dean’s scheduled trial date and ruled the trial will begin on June 23.

Hagerman was reportedly testy throughout the delay hearing proceedings, as Brissette and Gill brought up that some of their expert witnesses weren’t going to be available for the trial date due to other commitments.

When Gill further added that he had put in a vacation letter request months ago for June 29, Hagerman said he would not consider the issue at that point.

“You’re not going to dictate the schedule to this court, Mr. Gill,” Hagerman said.

Due to a gag order Hagerman issued in the case, neither side can comment on the decision to have him recused.

The district attorney's office has no right to appeal the judge’s decision to remove Hagerman from the case.

In most cases, when a judge is removed from a presiding over a case, it involves comments or actions taken outside the courtroom. But it doesn’t have to be.

In Hagerman’s case, it involved alleged actions and decisions that occurred in court.

Experts have said the standard used to recuse a judge is if an average person would think there is bias on the part of judge.

The case will be transferred to the 396th District Court of Tarrant County, with Hon. George Gallagher as the presiding judge. 

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