Bully on the Bench

When big-city lawyers appear in the courtroom of Judge Gene Knize, they better be prepared to duck and cover

After hearing that Knize planned to dismiss the second jury, Finn filed a hasty motion requesting a hearing, saying: "In this unprecedented action, the Court has unilaterally undermined the defendant's right to a fair trial."

In an affidavit, Williams said he had been very pleased with the jury. "I do not believe I will ever get a better jury to hear the facts of my case," even though he was black and the jury all white.

When Knize refused to reinstate the jury, Finn filed a motion saying another judge should hear the case because Knize had threatened him and could no longer give Williams a fair trial. Four members of the jury pool testified they didn't think Knize could give Williams a fair trial, including diesel mechanic Spence, who told Senior Judge Bill Coker of Dallas that Knize seemed unprofessional.

Judge Gene Knize rules his courtroom like a fiefdom.
courtesy of The Ellis County Press
Judge Gene Knize rules his courtroom like a fiefdom.
Defense attorney David Finn refused to let Judge Knize bully him and posted the transcript of jury selection on his blog.
Mark Graham
Defense attorney David Finn refused to let Judge Knize bully him and posted the transcript of jury selection on his blog.

Finn testified that Knize "was trying to bully me and I stood up to him and that's what made him upset. He was furious. He was shaking, and I felt like he was going to punch me."

Coker ruled in favor of Finn, who had posted the transcript of the jury selection on his blog. The district attorney's office asked for reconsideration, saying the jurors' testimony showed Knize was right to discharge them. But Coker let the recusal stand. Another jury and Judge Richard Davis of Canton will hear the case on July 30, 2007.

Knize never explained why he dismissed the jury.

Maybe it was just because he could.

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