Judge Blackwood will not recuse himself from Christian Newsom cases

5:42 PM, Jun 14, 2012   |    comments
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Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood says he will not recuse himself from overseeing the Channon Christian and Chris Newsom murder cases.

In a hearing in court on Thursday, Blackwood said, "I intend to run this ship. I'm here by appointment of Supreme Court. Until Supreme Court tells me otherwise, I'm not leaving."

Prosecutors filed a motion on June 1 that asked Blackwood to step aside earlier this month. Their Motion To Recuse includes emails the state said the judge sent to attorneys involved in the case. References to rumors within the e-mails have prosecutors concerned.

The District Attorney's Office referred to the use of rumors as a conflict with the code of judicial conduct.

New trials

On June 5, Blackwood once again ordered new trials for Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas in the Channon Christian and Chris Newsom murders, despite a recent Supreme Court ruling overturning his previous decision to grant new trials.

Judge Blackwood issues his short, two-page order on Tuesday.

In it, he acknowledges that he has reviewed his previous order based upon the mandate from the Tennessee Supreme Court.

The court overruled Blackwood's previous decision because the justices concluded that there was no evidence that former judge Richard Baumgartner's admitted drug abuse outside of the courtroom affected the outcome of the cases.

This time, Blackwood based his decision on the 13th juror rule.

"After a review as mandated by the Tennessee Supreme Court, this court finds that it is unable as successor judge to perform those duties incumbent upon the court because of its failure to preside at trial and other reasons," according to the document. "The court finds that credibility of the witnesses is an overriding and important issue which obligates this court to conclude that it cannot perform the duties of the Thirteenth Juror."

The order affects the trials of Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas.

While their trials have been on hold pending the decisions and appeals, Vanessa Coleman's trial has been moving forward as scheduled.

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