The judge assigned to the second degree manslaughter trial against Robert Bates recused himself the morning of Friday, October 30.
Daniel Smolen, attorney for the Harris family, sent Steve Kunzweiler, Tulsa County District Attorney, a letter encouraging them to take action.
The letter cites a 2007 state Supreme Court ruling that states: “Where there are circumstances that cause doubts as to a judge’s partiality, it is the judge’s duty to disqualify, notwithstanding the judge’s personal belief that he or she is impartial.”
Smolen also added, “There are issues with respect of his daughter being an employee of the sheriff’s office would lead to an idea or possible view that he is being impartial. Then you have on top of that situations where he has represented witnesses in the case before on multiple occasions. The fact that he was a reserve deputy in the same time frame that Robert Bates was a reserve deputy.”
Caputo’s recusal comes after an investigation by The Frontier into apparent conflicts of interest.
The Frontier reported Tuesday, October 27 that the judge was a Tulsa County reserve deputy during 2007 and 2008, when Bates also served in the volunteer program.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said it’s likely the court will assign a new judge in about a week.
*image and video from KTUL Channel 8