Thursday, November 2, 2006

Should Judge Recuse Himself in Mob Case After Seeing His Name on Hit List?

Prosecutors actually say "No."  As Newsday reported this morning (by staff writer Anthony Destafano), in "Basciano Prosecutors:  Keep Judge," the U.S. District Judge presiding over the upcoming re-prosecution of alleged mob captain Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano (he's a hairdresser too, allegedly) is contemplating recusal.  This is because he was named on an alleged murder-for-hire hit list associated with the defendant.  (Prosecutors also disclosed transcripts of phone calls Vinny made to his wife and to his girlfriend--apparently two different people--which prosecutors interpret as showing that the defendant had been trying for months to engineer the Judge's recusal.)  Should the Judge pass on this case?  Seems like an ethical and Darwinian no-brainer to me, but the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney's Office's position is that the sting of the threat is "undercut" by the fact that it is now public, and all that might be left is that it shows "animus" to the Judge. 

My 2 cents:  even judicial awareness of that degree of "animus" may be plenty enough for a reasonable jurist to withdraw.  But as to the lack of remaining threat, I seriously doubt prosecutors are taking the position that there is no lingering danger to the three witnesses also named on the list.  Defendant has admitted to owning a hair salon.  [Posted by Alan The Homely Childress]

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