Embattled Oklahoma County district judge criticized again
Two appellate judges sharply criticized an Oklahoma County district judge Wednesday for not taking herself off criminal cases after being charged.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, however, refused 3-1 to bar Kendra Coleman from hearing future criminal cases because she already has been reassigned.
District Attorney David Prater sought to have Coleman disqualified from all his cases on a number of grounds including that he was prosecuting a tax case against her.
In a concurring opinion, Judge Gary Lumpkin wrote Coleman's duty was clear once charged.
He wrote she should have recused herself from any cases where the district attorney was a party "so as to avoid the appearance of impropriety." He called it "deeply troubling" she did not.
Judge Robert Hudson used similar language in a dissent, calling her failure to self-recuse "highly troubling."
Hudson further criticized her for "overtly hostile behavior" toward prosecutors during closed hearings. He wrote her conduct was "well beyond the norm" and raised red flags about her ability to be fair and impartial.
Hudson also criticized Thomas Prince, Oklahoma County's presiding judge last year, for refusing to testify at a disqualification hearing whether Coleman called the DA a racist.
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"Instead of telling what he knew, Judge Prince presented as a hostile witness who appeared intent on stonewalling the state," Hudson wrote.
Coleman, 43, of Oklahoma City, was elected in 2018. She is accused in a felony charge of intentionally evading payment of her 2017 state taxes.