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Attorneys for former Fort Worth officer who killed Atatiana Jefferson argue judge is biased

Kaley Johnson and Emerson Clarridge, Fort Worth Star-Telegram on

Published in News & Features

With the first few witnesses called Thursday morning, Gill focused on Hagerman’s refusal to move the trial — which had been set to start on June 23 — to honor Gill’s vacation request.

Prosecuting attorney Dale Smith pushed back on this premise, pointing out Hagerman has granted multiple motions from defense attorneys to move the trial to suit their schedules and case readiness.

In a June 3 hearing, Hagerman appeared frustrated with the proceedings, which focused on Gill’s motion to resolve scheduling conflicts. Gill had previously filed a vacation request for June 29 to July 1, and he argued with Hagerman that the Dean trial would not be completed by that time. Hagerman asked if Gill was filling a motion for continuance, and Gill said he was not. Gill — who is a former judge — and Hagerman went back and forth throughout the June 3 hearing.

Hagerman did not technically deny Gill’s vacation request, nor did he explicitly say Gill would not be able to go on vacation. When Gill asked about his formal vacation request during the June 3 hearing, Hagerman said the court would figure out the conflict at the time of Gill’s vacation, and would work through weekends to get the case done swiftly. Gill seemed skeptical the trial would be wrapped up by then.

Rose Anna Salinas, a former president and current board member with the Tarrant County Criminal Defense Association, was one of the witnesses called Thursday morning. Salinas said she attended the June 3 hearing after she heard concerns about Hagerman potentially not following local rules. She said she was “shocked” by Hagerman’s tone and his “extremely hostile” attitude toward the defense attorneys.

“I could see the bias. I could feel the bias,” Salinas said.

 

Salinas said she believes Hagerman’s antagonism toward the defense could “lead a jury to believe that he wants a conviction, that he is the third prosecutor in this courtroom.”

Salinas said her primary interest is not in the Dean case, but instead is in the interest of a judge potentially being biased and hostile toward defense attorneys.

The first witness, defense attorney Don Carter, said he attended the June 3 hearing at Gill’s request. On the stand Thursday, Carter said Hagerman appeared biased against Dean’s defense attorneys.

“I hate to use the term bullying,” Carter said, “but It was like ‘sit down, shut up, we’re going to have this case on this day.’”

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