Does This Mean a New Trial for Emily Dowdy?

The judge who presided over Emily Dowdy's three trials was voted off the bench this week, giving Dowdy's family hope for a new trial.

Here's some election news from our neighbor to the north; no, not Canada. Oklahoma County Judge Susan Caswell, the pro-prosecution jurist who has presided over three trials involving former Dallas resident and current Oklahoma prisoner Emily Dowdy, was defeated this week by lawyer Bill Graves, by a margin of 3,200 votes. Dowdy's parents, Nancy and Charlie Jackson of Hillsboro, are elated.

"At last, there is hope that right will prevail in the Oklahoma County Court system," writes Nancy Jackson via e-mail.

As you no doubt recall, Dowdy was convicted of negligent homicide by DWI and sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing the son of an Oklahoma City police officer in an automobile accident. Dowdy's defense maintains that she was drugged with GHB.

Caswell is married to an OKC police officer. She has repeatedly refused to recuse herself from Dowdy's case. Dowdy is waiting for the answer to her appeal, which alleges in part that Caswell was so pro-prosecution she allowed numerous errors in Dowdy's third trial.

In addition, Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane was defeated by attorney David Prater in a squeaker. The Jacksons also praise that result. "Both judge-elect Bill Graves and DA-elect David Prater are decent, honest men," Nancy Jackson writes. "If Emily's case is remanded back to them, we believe that she will receive a fair trial. We believe that it is very possible that the new District Attorney will not want to retry Emily's case."

That remains to be seen. But if nothing else, Caswell won't be presiding over any more criminal trials after January 1. --Glenna Whitley

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky