On Thursday, January 18, 2024, the Herald-Leader reported that Fayette County Commonwealth’s Attorney Kimberly Baird had filed a motion asking Fayette Circuit Judge Julie Goodman to recuse herself from a murder trial. The motion stemmed from comments Judge Goodman had made accusing the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office of pursuing disproportionately harsh punishments against minority defendants.
The motion focused specifically on Judge Goodman’s role in the upcoming trial of Darryl Russell, who was charged with murder, assault, and gun offenses related to the March 2022 killing of 18-year-old Darian Webb. However, Baird alleged in her 19-page motion that Judge Goodman had exhibited bias against prosecutors during previous court hearings for Russell’s case. Baird claimed the judge had rolled her eyes at prosecutors and cut them off while speaking during a bond hearing in 2022. Goodman had reduced Russell’s bond from $755,000 to $50,000 at that hearing.
Baird also referenced comments made by Judge Goodman in dismissing an unrelated murder case against Cornell Thomas, a Black defendant. In that case, Goodman had accused the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office of targeting minority defendants. Baird maintained these comments and actions demonstrated Goodman could not give the prosecution a fair trial in Russell’s case.
The motion further outlined 24 specific instances of alleged bias that Baird said supported her argument. At a hearing on the motion, Judge Goodman indicated her decision could impact other cases involving Baird and Goodman. They planned to further discuss the recusal issue on February 1st. If granted, the recusal could potentially cause delays in Russell’s scheduled murder trial. Judge Goodman declined to comment to the Herald-Leader following the hearing.