On Tuesday, April 23, 2024, KOBI-TV NBC5 reported that Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert had expressed concerns about a judge’s recent decision to rescind an order disqualifying another judge from cases involving her office.

According to the report, Heckert had filed a motion in July 2021 to disqualify Judge David Orr from hearing any matters related to the district attorney’s office, citing her belief that he could not be fair and impartial. Judge Lorenzo Mejia subsequently signed an order granting the disqualification. However, in October 2023, Presiding Judge Benjamin Bloom indicated he was considering vacating that order.

Though Judge Bloom initially told Heckert he did not plan to overturn the ruling, on April 17, 2024, he issued an order rescinding Judge Orr’s disqualification. The order cited a change in state law governing judicial disqualification procedures under Senate Bill 807, which went into effect January 1, 2024. However, Heckert argued the new law was not intended to be applied retroactively.

Heckert noted the timing of Judge Bloom’s action, just 34 days before the upcoming primary election, raised concerns it was politically motivated to aid Judge Orr, who could face challenges over the prior disqualification if he remained on the bench. She added that if the change in law was the true reason, Judge Bloom should have acted in January rather than just before the election period.

In response, Judge Orr stated district attorneys no longer have unilateral power to disqualify judges after legislation last year required them to demonstrate cause. He maintained he will continue requiring accountability from all parties equally. However, Heckert planned to file a complaint with the state’s judicial oversight commission over the actions of Judges Bloom and Orr.

 

 

Source: KOBI-TV NBC5